How to Build a Great Team? Think like an Olympian

olympic recruiting strategy

Sometime back before 2015, the US Olympic bobsled team found itself in need of new drivers. They recruited one from a most unexpected place: the backseat of one of their sleds.

Switching from push to pilot is practically unheard of, wrote Esquire of Justin Olsen, an Olympian who'd previously won gold as a back-of-the-sled brakeman in Vancouver.  But a coach saw the possibility. And this week, Olsen piloted the bobsled at the Olympics in PyeongChang.

It was an inspired recruitment strategy that's worth a look by even those of us who don't careen down ice slides at speeds of 90 MPH. The lesson is that when you're looking to fill important positions, make sure to look at the team you already have.

An Olympic-Caliber Recruitment Strategy

This is a conversation we're having constantly with our clients. It's tough out there right now. Unemployment is the lowest it's been in 17 years - a shallow 4.1%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says around 6-million jobs are open, and there are 2-million new jobs added every year. Add to that retiring Boomers and slow-to-launch Gen Z and what you're left with is pretty slim pickings.

That's not knocking new hires - if you can find them. It's recognizing that recruiting the same old way isn't going to get you very far. We can't help but wonder why more employers aren't looking to recruit from their own people, especially considering the results. Children's Mercy in Kansas City, one of our clients, recently wrote about putting tuition assistance under talent acquisition, saying training was the best way they could think of to ensure they had talent for the future. And they're not just waiting for people to come to their education assistance program; they're actively "re-recruiting" for the jobs they need.

That's the kind of creative recruitment strategy that's going to fill positions. And it is. The above hospital says a key nursing cohort has the lowest vacancy they've seen in seven years.  And that's nursing - one of the hardest professions to fill. Other specialties are seeing similar results. In short, these folks are doing everything right: they've created a vibrant talent market within their organization; they've got recruiters eyeing the new grads and ready to fill positions; and they've got extra-motivated employees (because what's more motivating than fulfilling a career wish?) moving into the roles the hospital needs. Our hats are off. And it doesn't just work at hospitals; it's there for data scientists, client success managers - any specialty you can train for.

So while you're looking outside to find hires for your organization, take a minute to advertise to the people already working for you.

You might find a gold medalist right under your nose.  

Written by: Alan Robins

About the Author

Alan Robins at Bright Horizons

As Director of Product Marketing, Alan drives original research and thought leadership for Bright Horizons education benefits programs, drawing on his extensive experience helping companies optimize education programs to support their Talent and HR objectives. Prior to Bright Horizons, Alan was at Gartner, a global leader in providing advisory services to technology and business executives, where he led new product teams in Europe and the US.