What if Work Employed Drafts, Trades, Waivers and Free Agency like Sports?

The 2012 NFL draft is tonight. Players will be drafted out of school. Players will be traded for positions and picks. Players will be kept or let go to free agency pending who gets picked up. It all generates a huge amount of hype, no matter which sports draft you’re talking about. And that got me thinking… what would that be like in the work force?

Now, I’m not talking about the entire work force here. That’s way too large for anybody to know anybody. That’d be like a general sports draft for all sports. I’m just talking about employing such sports “human resources” practices in some large work force, like a medium to large corporation, or government level (or department if one is big enough), where some real shuffling can be done. SCHOOLS would actually be very cool and appropriate! Similar skill sets among teachers. They compete against each other in sports and grades, etc.

Even if done as an exercise, because it would be almost impossible to do it practically in real life, I would bet it can definitely be a very interesting experience! It could also be very useful for any reorganization efforts, especially in more open minded organizations like some tech giants. It could also relieve a lot of office politic stresses, among other benefits! Of course, it could also be abused, and will create stress, but that comes with life in sports, too.


Sports draft pick people coming out of college or some lower level. There are too many schools to scout for most companies, in all likelihood, and there may not be new job spots available, so what if the draft just came out of the current pool of staff? So perhaps have the most senior management in several divisions, branches or however the organization is divided, be the drafters. Then pick. Oh, also have a lottery on who picks in what order.

As for the actual order certain employees are picked, it would be just like the draft. It would rarely go purely by talent. Different teams, like different groups in an organization, would have different needs. The HR group may not draft very many subject matter specialists, for example, even though some may be fabulous specialists who might deserve to go really high. Some will only be useful to one group, but that group may decide they can get someone to better do the job if that person got the training. So order someone gets picked may not reflect their true value, but definitely their value to the group that picks them.

You also don’t have to draft everyone, just like there are far more players than any draft could pick up, and I would encourage that. The undrafted could go to “try out”, or seek a spot somewhere in the organization. After all, if you start with as many openings as there are people, then there should be a spot for everyone at the end. But that doesn’t mean they could be given a spot. After all, in every organization, there are undesirable workers. Talk about making that obvious through something like a draft!

In some cases of undrafted workers, you may find you could do without the same staff. Possible cut identified. Or maybe that you’d rather have others step up and do over time, or take a chance on someone new. Talk about quantifying how undesirable someone might be! Oi!


Drafts like the one described are pretty much theoretical because of the huge amount of shake-up it can cause. You might need a pretty homogeneous organization with similar skill sets, or core skill set, among most workers, for it to be able to work. However, trades are another matter all together! They are very possible!

So trades are basically as they sound. You swap workers. With your new worker/s, you can get them to do work as needed, though it should probably be in their skill set. You don’t trade a pitcher to hit, or goalie to play forward, for example. The workers may not like getting traded, but do you think athletes always like getting traded? On the other hand, workers could also demand to be traded… at the risk of being let go all together, like being put on waivers. But more on that later.

Salaries may be a problem to fit into budgets. Maybe the situation just warrants you to get rid of some toxicity on the team. You might trade for someone with a bigger or smaller salary. If we’re to carry through the sports analogy, people would keep their salaries, and that would work into the trade equation, whether you’d be willing to pay that person that salary to do whatever it is you want them to, so long as it is in their skill set. You would have to either accommodate their salaries, or get the group they came from to pay for some of it, top it up or whatever, some savings they may have gotten from getting someone with a smaller salary. That’s how you could make things financially feasible. It’s the same total sum of salaries, just where it comes from may change a bit.

I think trades would be SO interesting in the work place if it were ever carried through!


Waivers are where athletes who are no longer desired by their team go, possibly to be picked up by another. You could do the same thing at work, like a gentler version of firing someone. Work situations change and maybe some group simply may not have a spot for someone, or be overcrowded with stars. I can see something like that in units like sales of one type of product, versus sales of another type of product.

Lots of athletes rebound from waivers to have successful years or entire careers. Workers on waivers could look forward to the same thing. Firings will be firings, though. If you’re fired, it’s not likely you’re going to be picked up by another part of the organization, but who knows?

Free Agency

This is when a player’s contract runs out and they can opt to go with another team to see if they’d be willing to pay them more, or have a better chance of winning, or be more of a star there, etc. Whatever the reason, they opt not to come back to their old team, or may come crawling back if they find they had overvalued themselves.

At work, you probably don’t have everyone on “contract” by years, but you could always have this situation being a potential at annual performance reviews. To prevent it from happening every year, maybe create a term where people are not “guaranteed” salaries for so many years. You do want to be able to function as a business and fire people out of the organization, unless you have one of these abusive unions as part of your work force. However, set a term that people may be able to have that flexibility to go search for “free agency” within the organization (like the league), some number of years down the road from signing on with a unit (like a team).

So someone starts a job, for example, whether from being hired on, traded for, drafted, or whatever. They negotiate on what anniversary they could then consider free agency, unless their group offers them something that would deter them from doing it in the future. Maybe that’s a raise. Maybe that’s not being fired, if they’ve been less than stellar. Hopefully, their work would be known to others such that their group couldn’t use the threat to fire them without being called for abuse. The worker could still have the option to sue, if abused, of course. We’re not putting the law aside for all this.


How’s about a bonus analogy? You can suspend people, without pay the way suspended players don’t get pay, for bad conduct. Maybe they show up drunk, or fall asleep on the job, or are mean to others, or utter discriminatory comments. Have a meaningful penalty other than a warning and an apology. Repeat offenders get more.


So those are the scenarios about which I was thinking. The thought of being able to do this really boggles my mind. I’d really love to try something like this, even if in theory with some colleagues. But that’s the beauty of this. Any group of colleagues could try it. Executive management could do it, but so could the front line staff, secretaries, janitors, or whoever. It could really be a fun thing to try!

And wouldn’t THAT be juicy gossip to see and discuss??? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.