Tour of duty

A genuine—and understandable—fear among roofing contractors is that valuable employees will leave. To avoid this from happening, many contractors have developed various programs to entice employees to stay though the programs' success levels vary greatly.

In a new book, The Alliance, Reid Hoffman, founder of the social networking site LinkedIn, says it's time to stop expecting employees to stay with one company for the long term and instead take a "tour of duty" approach to all employer-employee relationships.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article discussing the book, Hoffman, along with co-authors Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh, write that in an age where companies are quick to lay off workers in lean times, " … the lack of job security indirectly creates incentives for employees to become more adaptable and entrepreneurial [and] the lack of mutual benefit encourages the most adaptable and entrepreneurial to take their talents elsewhere. The company reaps some cost savings but gains little in the way of innovation and adaptability."

Hoffman argues forming mutually beneficial alliances with employees and agreeing on a specified time frame of retention is a better approach. Hoffman suggests an initial four-year "tour of duty" for integral employees with a discussion at two years.