By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
May 11, 2012
In business, it’s commonly said that people are your most valuable asset. The unfortunate and untimely death of retired football star Junior Seau has reignited concerns that the NFL needs to do more to protect its people, the players. While it’s premature to blame concussions and brain trauma for Seau’s suicide, that shouldn’t detract from the more pressing issue: the obligation a business has to its employees, beyond just compensation.
Whether its stock options, vacation time, and 401Ks in Fortune 500 companies, or unlimited medical care and a seasonal work schedule in professional sports, benefits tend to be a differentiator when prospective employees choose a new job. Even in today’s weak job market, people with the right skills are in high demand. Just consider the talent war in Silicon Valley between Facebook and Google for computer engineers.
NFL players have the benefit of huge paychecks and collective bargaining rights…things a great majority of workers don’t have. But they also run the risk of short careers with life-long injuries. How any organization – from the NFL to a small company – treats its human assets speaks loudly about whether that organization prioritizes profits over people. Junior Seau’s death reflects poorly on the league, regardless of the cause.