room44 innovates

I just heard a lovely exposition on the ways modern corporate business is wrestling with the recruitment issue.

On Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, ironically called Take bigger risks, the show sponsor is Mastercard. The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth is exploring the future of work and asks the listening community to share ideas for enticing home workers back to industry. The best example of innovation they presented is a loyalty scheme where workers generate ‘benefit’ points that can be redeemed for healthcare, life insurance, education…

Pause and read that again.

One of the world’s biggest financial institutions is asking the ‘crowd’ to ‘pitch your partnership’ to secure the services of people who don’t want to work for them, by offering non-contracted employees the same stuff they left behind.

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More than this, Mastercard is asking the crowd what to do next. The offer is actually, if you all tell us what we could do, we’ll decide which is the best idea and we’ll feature you on – a podcast. Yep, you can come on a podcast that Mastercard doesn’t own and that you could do yourself for the price of a tiny slice of Apple bandwidth.

room44 trades in signals and trends. We look for flags of change and we interpret them to make them relevant to client business.

I’m not claiming that the future of work is a new issue that we’ve just woken up to. What I am saying is, established business has reached a point when the benefit-augmented pay cheque has so little appeal for some people, industry does not know what to do next to secure employee time and skill. This is a seller’s market.

A new idea

There’s a guy on the internet called Sean McCabe. He’s a self-promoting author and has built a business from nothing through a series of podcasts. One practise and staff benefit he discusses is the 7th week sabbatical. Every seventh week is a paid week off. I don’t suppose Sean has many employees, but for anyone to take that much time out is unusual. His latest schtick is to take a 7th year off, paid.

On the face of it, this sounds unworkable. But in a world where recruitment and retention costs are rocketing, how much goodwill and loyalty would it generate? How many people, in the context of fewer wanting to work for a corporation, would see that as attractive? And to keep somebody for six straight years before they go off and do something for themselves – well, the possibilities are endless.


They could start a company while having a funded year off without the need for external borrowing. They could succeed and bring it back to their company and sell the new idea back. They could fail and need to come back. They could leave after starting up their new company and become a valuable member of trade and commerce themselves: the corporation would have such positive PR collateral that recruitment would suddenly be an easy thing to do. Or they could set up a loyalty scheme and sell points that buy healthcare or vacation time.

Trends like these are valuable if seen and interpreted early enough.

Learn about room44’s trends tracking service called outside insight here.

Future thinking. Future-proofing. It’s what we do.

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