September 23, 2020 – Executives have reported a significant reluctance to consider new career opportunities, with over 60 percent stating they would not consider a career move during the current global pandemic crisis, according to a new report by Salveson Stetson Group. Over 95 percent of the executives surveyed were employed.
While the results were not surprising, they have significant implications for employers, according to the search firm’s co-founder Sally Stetson. “In a normal business environment, these numbers would be reversed,” she said. “The pandemic has significantly raised the perceived risk of making a career move.”
Salveson Stetson, based in Radnor, PA, surveyed 545 director, S/VP and C-suite executives from May 31 to June 12 at a high point during the pandemic and covered a broad range of topics regarding the employment, work environment and talent impacts of the health crisis.
Ms. Stetson said the 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,” she said.
Variability in Results
While respondents indicated a reduced appetite for a job change, there was variability in the results based on level, industry and function, the survey found. General managers and C-level executives, for example, were least likely to entertain a career change, with less than 20 percent 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, the survey found. And 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 latter point, search firm principal John Touey said 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,” he said. “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.”
Sally Stetson brings more than two decades of experience as an executive search consultant. She has worked across diverse industries including life sciences and pharmaceutical, healthcare systems, manufacturing, telecommunications, non-profit and professional services. Ms. Stetson also serves as practice leader for the firm’s human resources specialty practice. Prior to co-founding her firm, Ms. Stetson served as vice president of client services for Right Management Consultants and as vice president of W.K. Gray and Associates, an executive search firm. She also held senior human resources management positions at Thomas Jefferson University.
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.
“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,” said Mr. Touey. He recommended 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.
A Multi-Specialty Firm
Founded in 1996 by John Salveson and Ms. Stetson, Salveson Stetson Group is today a multi-specialty search firm which places senior executives in a wide range of business positions, including: general management, sales, marketing, finance, operations and human resources. The firm has several specialty practices in human resources and finance, with specialty practices in the life sciences and wholesale distribution sectors.
When is the Right Time to Change Jobs?
As the world is faced with the uncertainty of a pandemic, it can be tough to decide whether now is the right time to change jobs. In making that decision, you should take stock and ask yourself if you are truly ready for change, says Richard Stein, chief growth officer of Options Group. Settle that first, then you can consider the team, the mentor and the money.
Some good news: Employers in the U.S report improved hiring plans for the fourth quarter following the 10 year low reported in Q3, according to the latest “Employment Outlook Survey” released recently by ManpowerGroup. “Though we still have a long way to go to recover from what started as a health crisis and has evolved to a social and economic crisis, it is encouraging to see optimistic outlooks in some of the industries most heavily impacted including leisure, retail and manufacturing,” said Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America. “We also see employers recognize this recovery will take longer than they initially thought and many are adapting work models for the long term.”
“This is accelerating a shift closer to what we know workers have wanted for some time: autonomy to choose how and where they get their work done, more learning on demand, and a focus on achieving a better blend of work and home,” Ms. Frankiewicz said. “Now is the time for employers to offer targeted skills development and more flexible future-focused work options for those working remote and in the workplace.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media