$860,000. That’s roughly what a National Football League player can expect to take home in a season.
If that seems low, it might be because you’re thinking of the average NFL salary, which is $2.1 million (star players’ earnings tend to skew the math). No, $860k isn’t exactly on par with the millions a Tom Brady or Antonio Brown may earn every year—and no, it’s nowhere near the median salaries for pro basketball or baseball players.
But, come on, $860,000 is still a heck of a lot of money. If you were paying your employees that much, you’d probably want to make sure you were hiring the best people to begin with, right? And that’s exactly what the League does—through the annual NFL Draft, in which teams take turns painstakingly considering, picking, and trading players.
Of course, you don’t need to start cutting 6-figure checks to understand why good hiring and onboarding processes are crucial to your company’s success. You also don’t need to sit down with all your competitors for a weekend-long hire-a-thon in order to find the best talent. But according to Cade Massey, a Wharton School professor who specializes in decision-making, the NFL Draft offers plenty of lessons for employers of all sizes.
“Few industries invest as much into each ‘hire’ as professional sports. I have seen this firsthand, working closely with NFL teams for more than 10 years and more recently with professional basketball and baseball teams. Their issues parallel those I see in nonsports organizations, from multinational corporations to graduate school admissions and urban nonprofits. The challenge of finding the next generation of talent is both ubiquitous and vexing. Successful track records are rare.