Congrats on your 5 years at ACME! You can re-apply online

Steve Boese Bad HR, Culture, Employee Communications, HR, Retention, Steve Boese

Let’s pretend you’ve been working at ACME company for 5 years or so, doing a reasonably good job, (you got a ‘3’ last year, but two years ago you were a ‘4’), and while things could be better, you are happy to be gainfully employed especially considering how hard you know it would be to find a new gig should something happen to this one. Your industry has seen its share of change over the last few years, and your company’s executives, while certainly not perfect, have managed to do (you think), a pretty good job of charting a strategy, managing through the tough times, and holding everything together when other organizations have been driven to cut costs, downsize, sell out, or maybe even disappear altogether.

Then one fine morning, you turn up to work and before you’ve had a chance to down coffee number one of the day, you get an email from ‘Corporate’, (doesn’t matter from whom specifically, besides ‘Corporate’ lends more of a ‘The man is keeping me down’ kind of feel to the story), that says something like this:

‘We all know business has not been great these last few years. After a careful review, we have decided to make some strategic changes in the next few months. To ensure we have the right people and skills in place to execute on these new strategies, all staff who wish to continue working here at ACME will be required to re-apply and interview for current and new positions that will be created. Additional details on this process will be forthcoming, but in the interim, please send a current resume to Corporate Human Resources by the close of business tomorrow.

Have a nice day.’

Nice. The old ‘re-apply’ for your job if you want to keep it gimmick.

This piece, from an independent blog about the Gannett Company (think USA Today), about an alleged ‘re-apply’ program that might be implemented at the flagship paper’s sports department was what got me thinking about this topic. According to the author, a combination of changes in organizational leadership and the realization that a strategic shift placing more emphasis on digital media, technology, and content have led Gannett to re-think its current team, and part of that re-thinking involves evaluating the staff ostensibly to determine the level of fit between current skill sets and the new requirements this shift in strategy will entail. Or more cynically, one might read this as the new leadership team pulling a ‘We really want to purge most of the old guard around here and replace them with people we pick.’ Either way, it seems like current staff, if they wish to remain, will have to head down the re-apply path.

To me, these re-apply programs don’t seem to have any upside. Anyone with other realistic options would almost certainly pursue them immediately, and even if they survive the re-apply process, they’d be pretty likely to jump at the first opportunity. And second, the creation of the program itself, while attempting to position the new leadership as being thoughtful about how they are treating the staff in a time of upheaval, comes off more as an admission of ‘We really don’t have much of an idea what you do, what you’re capable of, your career goals, and well, we really don’t know anything about you. Apply on the website if you want to stay.

I guess for me the only good thing about re-apply it is that it would drive many employees to update their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, which most of us do a crap job at keeping current.

What do you think, have you ever been a part of one of these ‘re-apply for your own job’ processes?

How did it work out?