NBA CHRO Reveals How the Organization Keeps Its Best Talent

Although the NBA brand is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, the size of the organization’s workforce may surprise many fans due to the professional sport’s expansive global reach.

The NBA works hard to attract and retain the best to fill out the 1,500 employees at the league office. As Eric Hutcherson, chief human resource officer (CHRO) of the NBA, conveys it: “Big brand, small company.”

Overseeing the people strategy for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, and NBA 2K League, Hutcherson emphasizes the importance of providing an engaging workforce experience. In fact, the “fan experience,” a cornerstone to the NBA’s HR strategy, supports the idea that the employee experience should emulate the passion that the organization strives to deliver to fans.

“Every one of our employees are fans in and of themselves,” Hutcherson said. “And while you join the NBA because of the particular expertise you bring, when you’re in the NBA, it’s a way of life. You can’t really escape the game and you don’t want to escape the game. Every day we live the game.”

Just as the NBA has invested in innovations that are changing the way fans experience the game globally, technology is transforming the ways in which the organization supports and inspires employees. From measuring employee engagement to understanding productivity, Hutcherson said he hopes to achieve a seamless, enhanced employee experience. Alongside global growth for the league, understanding the “experiential” health of employees, empirically capturing the well-being of an employee’s experience, is also a priority for driving performance.

Several initiatives reflect the weight the NBA places on employee engagement and keeping talent in a competitive labor market. These initiatives include sabbaticals, increasing parental leave, and creating a career plan program to inspire individual growth and new skills within the organization.

Hutcherson credits his career success in the NBA, which began when he served as assistant director of Public Relations for the Boston Celtics, to recognizing the value of experience.

“Dave Gavitt, who was the president of the Celtics when I started, pulled me aside at one point and said, ‘Let me just tell you something: It’s experience, not money, that carries the day,’” Hutcherson said. “And I carried that with me for a long time, because the experiences that I’ve had have been ones that have shaped my career.”

Learn more about Hutcherson’s experience:

HR Untold: Employee Experience Becomes the Fan Experience at the NBA

Click the button below to load the content from YouTube.

HR Untold: Employee Experience Becomes the Fan Experience at the NBA

Watch other videos in the HR Untold series here.

Read more HR Untold stories here.


Kirsten Allegri-Williams is chief marketing officer at SAP SuccessFactors.