Executives Staying Put Through the Pandemic

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Over 60% Of Professionals Will Not Consider A Job Change In Current Environment According to Salveson Stetson Group Survey

PHILADELPHIA, PA, June 24, 2020 – In a survey of 545 Director, S/VP, and C-suite executives, respondents reported a significant reluctance to consider new career opportunities with over 60% stating that they would not consider a career move through the current health crisis.  Over 95% of executives surveyed are currently employed.

Salveson Stetson Group (SSG), a multi-specialty retained executive search firm in Philadelphia, conducted the survey from May 31 to June 12 and covered a broad range of topics regarding the employment, work environment, and talent impacts of the pandemic.

While the results were not surprising, they have significant implications for employers, according to SSG Co-founder and Principal, Sally Stetson. “In a normal business environment, these numbers would be reversed. The pandemic has significantly raised the perceived risk of making a career move.”

Stetson further stated that the current attitude within the executive ranks presents increased challenges for employers seeking to recruit top talent in a time of uncertainty.  “If a company is truly invested in recruiting the best talent, it will need to craft a unique and compelling value proposition for fully employed potential candidates who are currently sitting on the sidelines, “ Stetson said.

While the almost respondents indicated a reduced appetite for a job change, there was variability in the results based on level, industry, and function.  Examples include:

  • General Managers and C-Level executives were least likely to entertain a career change at the current time with less the 20% of the C-Suite willing to explore external opportunities.
  • From an industry standpoint, healthcare professionals were the most likely to consider making a move while executives in the professional services industry were the least likely.
  • Executives one step below the C-Suite, in Senior Vice President and Vice President roles, were the only group where a plurality of respondents had an interest in a career move.

On the last point, SSG Principal, John Touey noted that even in a challenging economic environment, high potential talent is still in play. “Executives at this level are nearing the top rung on their career ladders but haven’t quite reached them yet.  With the C-level leaders in their companies more likely to stay put, it is to be expected for motivated leader below them to look to the outside for near-term career advancement,” Touey said.

The flight risk of high potential leaders puts the onus on employers to continue to invest in their development, which can be challenging for companies given how many priorities they are managing due to the pandemic, But, as Touey notes, “at the exact time you most need the talent of your high potential leaders, they are becoming more vulnerable to being poached from the outside.” He recommends a high touch approach to the retention of this leadership group that includes increased communication from the C-Suite and a reconfirmation of the high potential’s place in the executive succession plan.

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