Rethinking Retention: If You Want Your Best Executives to Stay, Equip Them to Leave

Rather than guaranteeing employment security, many firms now claim to provide opportunities for employees to accumulate skills and experiences that both improve company performance and enhance employees’ employability in the labor market. This “employability approach” encourages and often expects individuals to take greater personal responsibility for their careers.

Since many believe that the employability approach allows, and even invites, the loss of talent, organizations are often hesitant to invest to make their employees more marketable. According to this argument, any investments in employees’ general skills and marketable competencies will increase people’s value in the external labor market and presumably their likelihood of leaving.

In this report, the authors explain that their research prompts the opposite conclusion. In a global study of managers and executives, they found that organizations can strengthen their executives’ intentions to stay by equipping them to leave. Their counterintuitive conclusion: the best way to ensure that critical talent doesn’t leave is by providing experiences and opportunities that truly enhance their value and employability in the external labor market.

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