CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 2: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs the ball against the Carolina Panthers at the Soldier Field on October 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Panthers 34 to 29. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Matt Forte will turn 26 in December. He has been in his first job out of college for about four years now, and really likes his employer. He is comfortable with his co-workers, is exceeding expectations, and wants to see a long-term commitment from the job he's worked so hard at. Unfortunately, he is not seeing the same sort of interest from his bosses. They keep saying the right things about him, but it's clear that Matt isn't going to make enough money to put him at the top of his industry, even though he outperforms most of his contemporaries.
"I know I'm loyal to my teammates and my team are my guys, but it doesn't seem like the organization is to me," Matt said.
Matt is running into one of the problems of the modern workplace. Workers -- even those at the top of the field -- are commodities. People rarely stay in their first job for a lifetime. It doesn't matter that we're talking about Matt Forte, a professional football player, or that the organization we're discussing is the Chicago Bears.
Just as workers across the country are laid off with ease -- it happened to me twice before I hit 26 -- football players are cut and traded without a second thought. Olin Kreutz, Greg Olsen and Chris Harris all thought that they were Bears for life, but all were forced to wear different uniforms. Forte, after making up nearly half of the Bears offense and being their only reliable running option, wants a raise and a long-term commitment. If the Bears slap the franchise tag on him, which they will likely do, he will get a raise, but not as much as he deserves. He'll get a commitment, but not the long-term one that he seeks.
It's an unfortunate reality of the modern workplace that organizations no longer make the long-term commitments that workers seek. Forte is seeing the downside, but that makes him no different than any other twenty-something in their first job.