June 14, 2022
The National Football League (NFL) held its annual draft of college players here in Chicago this past week. It is probably the most publicized human resources jobs fair in the country — maybe even the world. Of course the draft is only the culmination of months of speculation, testing, interviewing, and horse trading for draft spots. Public interest in the draft seems based upon genuine fan interest, with a big undercurrent of mercenary “fantasy league” general manager. I sometimes wonder if the NFL would be anywhere near as popular without sports betting. Not that the league condones or supports such a nefarious activity — wink, wink. But gambling is a topic for another day. Imagine if we had to conduct our hiring and firing in the glare of the TV cameras. How would you react if radio talk shows speculated about your top hobbing machine operator playing out his option and moving to a competitor? Or a talented accounting clerk getting tired of working behind a supervisor she doesn’t like? How would our “team dynamics” suffer if every employee’s salary were published on the Internet? I remember reading years ago that this was the practice at Rockford’s Woodward Governor Company, so I guess we could adapt. The few times that office salaries were bandied about where I worked things got ugly for weeks. The same with employee evaluations; the aforementioned company had every employee rate every other employee — every year. Somehow the company president always came out on top, but for other “teammates” it must have been a scary process. Most of us wouldn’t even want our heights and weights listed, much less our “productivity,” to be the subject of public discussion after every month’s results are released. People love to use sports terminology and metaphors in talking about business; it is a “common language” for our tuned in society. But as tough as gear making can be, it isn’t as cruel to its employees as professional sports. As someone who always got picked last in gym class I am very glad about that.