In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Mark Weinberger, the CEO of professional-services firm EY, shared a counterintuitive perspective on retaining talent at his company.
Simply put, he expects people to leave after a relatively short stint at EY and move on to another job — and it doesn’t really faze him.
“I’ve changed our value proposition. In the old days it was: ‘You come. You stay with us. You work with us. You get a pension.’
“Today we know our people are not likely to stay with us for their careers. They’re going to have five, six, seven jobs throughout their careers.”
Once employees leave, he said, “they’re part of the extended EY family.”
That means if they want to come back to EY, great; if not, that’s ok, too.
Weinberger himself left EY and returned several times — once to start his own business and once to become Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy.
Weinberger also told Businessweek that a whopping three-quarters of EY employees are millennials, which is part of the reason why he anticipates that they won’t stay at EY for long.
Research behind Weinberger’s observation is mixed. While some reports suggest millennials are the most inclined to job-hop out of any generation, others suggest that millennials are in fact less likely to switch jobs than other cohorts.
Meanwhile, one Bloomberg View columnist found that average job tenure stayed about the same — 4.6 years — between 1963 and 2014.
Regardless of whether job-hopping is increasing, the ability to accept some amount of turnover may be a crucial leadership skill.
In his book “Superbosses,” Dartmouth business professor Sydney Finkelstein writes that managers who spawn new generations of talent within their industry (so-called superbosses) know that they can’t hold on to employees forever. Instead, they know when it’s time to let go of someone stellar who’s moving onto something else.
In fact, the way superbosses become successful themselves is by creating industry-wide networks of people who have worked for them so that they’re always well-connected.
That idea is something Weinberger seems to embrace. He told Businessweek:
“If you can keep [your employees], great. If you can’t, then hopefully they’re a great representative of you, an ambassador of you out in their new jobs.”
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