BIG IDEAS: What I Like About The Ladders New $2,500 Guarantee…

Paul Hebert Audacious Ideas, Generations, HR, HR Vendors, Interviewing, Paul Hebert, War for Talent

This week I’m not at #SHRM11.

But I’m following the tweet stream and I know I’m missing swag videos, @ewmonster and his (and his company’s) total brand jacking of the twitter stream (and now my post) with BeKnown, Natasha Bedingfield and general fun tweetage (major props to them!)  But lurking in the background, seemingly little noticed by the swag obsessed attendees at #SHRM11, was The Ladders’ new offering.

Surprised am I (in my best Yoda voice.)  With the negative press The Ladders has received, I thought I’d have heard a bit more vitriol surrounding this.

To recap for my friends in Rio Linda – The Ladders is now offering a GUARANTEE $100K job if you invest $2,500.  Yep.  Asking someone for $2,500 who is probably unemployed and reaching the end of their rope sounds usurious to me – on the surface.

But in fact – I think it is brilliant.  And I think it will work.

Follow me on this. 

First of all – peep this post the other day by @cornonthejob outlining why he thinks job seekers are having problems – “6 Reasons You Don’t Have A Job”

That post got a lot of negative comments (around 100 by today I’d guess) but I’ll say this – It’s right on the money.  And I think The Ladders’ new offering helps eliminate all 6 of the things listed.

Commitment Changes Everything

On the surface, charging someone for getting a job sounds wrong.  But the bottom line can be best summed up by The Ladders’ CEO in an article on the FastCompany site:

“So, if TheLadders is so confident, why not front the money themselves, rather than give it back? Cenedella says they “tested it,” and it failed because if job-seekers “don’t have skin in the game, people don’t perform as well.” Indeed, Cenedella’s observations are consistent with a well-known psychological rule that the simple act of commitment can cause enormous changes in behavior.”

Commitment means it’s my problem – not theirs.  Once someone commits to a plan – in a tangible way – it changes their approach.  Something I think we forget about regularly with our own employees.  We listen intently to the Generational Gurus who tell us that we’re in an endowment society and we need to give, give, give in order to get engagement.

I’m thinking the problem is the giving – and not enough taking.

Yeah – I said it.  Take a little to get a little.  Employees might just perform better if they have some skin in the game.  Enough to make it painful but not enough to make it fatal.

When was the last time you put something on the line and then didn’t follow through?  Rarely if ever.  Putting something on the line is the surest way to get to your goals.  Sometimes it’s your reputation, sometimes it’s your family time, and sometimes it’s cold hard cash.

The mortgage industry learned that lesson the hard way.  Defaults were considerably less when 20% was required for a down payment.  When the down payment went to 5% (or even 1% or nothing), up went defaults.  How much skin we had in the game changed our approach to making that mortgage payment.  Same here with the job search.

I think The Ladders is on to something here and I expect it to be very successful.

Or not.

I’m firmly in the Yogi Berra camp when he said:

It’s tough to make predictions – especially about the future.

What’s your take – is The Ladders’ new service a good thing for job seekers or a thinly veiled attempt to squeeze money out of the desperately unemployed?

Paul Hebert

Paul Hebert is Vice President of Individual Performance Strategy at Creative Group Inc, writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. He is dedicated to creating true emotional connections often overlooked in our automated, tech-enabled world. Using proven motivational theory, behavioral economics and social psychology he has driven extraordinary company performance for his clients. Paul is widely considered an expert on motivation, incentives, and engagement.