Here’s What The Music Industry Can Teach Us About the Future of HR. Human Resources needs a frame from HR to AR (Acquisition & Retention)
Standing at the back of the audience—a little too old for leather pants—is the A&R guy. In the traditional music industry, the job description of the Acquisition and Retention (A&R) role was to discover new bands, sign them and keep them. Scouting for future stars has changed a lot recently, but we can still learn a lot from the A&R model since it has a lot of implications for business, most notably HR.
Acquisition and Retention is what Human Resources is really all about. Humans aren’t resources, they’re humans. Failure to recognize this can result in organizational lag, dissatisfaction and attrition.
According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the average cost per hire is $4,129. And according to Gallup, this investment only results in 32% of employees being actively engaged with work. That means 68% of all employees aren’t interested in the work or the company, and risk walking out the door. That’s a pretty weak report card.
So how would the music industry approach the same challenge, when it comes to bands?
Start with broad talent needs.
In music, there are different labels – some are large and some are boutique. A&R scouts constantly ask themselves: What are we looking for? Is a new hip-hop singer a great fit because she will highlight an existing asset like Beyoncé? Or is the hope her soulful voice will make her the next Amy Winehouse and round out the music portfolio?
For companies, the starting point is to reframe job requisitions from, “we need another developer” to “we need a technical asset that will be the key player in enhancing the customer experience.” Even a few extra minutes spent writing a job description that broadens skill sets could pay years of dividends through a more agile workforce.
Music labels don’t just make money on album sales. There are concerts, movie scores and product endorsements. Acquiring talent that is flexible, diverse and has growth potential will be a much more lucrative asset long-term.
In the enterprise, this translates to hiring the right person—especially generalists. According to the latest Bureau of Labor and Statistics report, the average person changes jobs twelve times in their career. Hiring talent with a diverse skillset increases the likelihood you will have another role for a candidate, if the work changes or if she wants to try something new.
For example, a data analytics professional in the IT department with great communications skills could transition internally to product marketing. Acquiring great employees often results in making it easier to retain them.
Deliver real employee value.
Van Halen had a famous rider in their contract about not having brown M&Ms in the dressing room. This silly folklore was also smart business. The small nuance of no brown M&Ms was a clear indicator that all of the other elements, in a very complex, high profile contract, were met. The contract also included very specific lighting and safety instructions for heavy equipment and pyrotechnics. No brown M&Ms meant it was actually safe to perform on stage.
In addition to fair pay, what is it your employees want in their employment contracts? What’s the equivalent of the brown M&M – the small stuff that signals you’re a great place to work. It probably goes beyond money. Do they want daycare? Flex time? Diversity? Career growth? Opportunities to drive innovation?
Acquiring and retaining talent is an art. Take note of the music industry, and you just might find your next Rockstar.
Soren Kaplan is the bestselling and award-winning author of Leapfrogging and The Invisible Advantage, an affiliated professor at USC’s Center for Effective Organizations, a former corporate executive, and a co-founder of UpBOARD. He has been recognized by the Thinkers50 as one of the world’s top keynote speakers and thought leaders in business strategy and innovation.
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