The Strategic Value of Quitters

Job hopping: the practice of switching jobs every few years. It’s becoming more and more common, especially among younger workers. For many of them, it’s the only way to get significant salary increases. There is obvious value in poor performing employees leaving your organization, but what about the high performing ones? I believe there is even more untapped value in those employees leaving.

The Internal Job Board Reimagined

Most large organizations maintain an internal listing of open positions, but how many of them include positions in other companies? Instead of allowing your employees to take those valuable skills and experience to a random company, help them get influential jobs inside your customers or potential customers. Making the effort creates goodwill between you and the employee, and helps place them in places where they can recommend your products and services in the future. The perceived loss of investment should be offset by the potential future business with a client. Even if it’s not a 1-to-1 value exchange, it’s better than nothing.

A People Pipeline

To really leverage this strategy, you need to be able to attract talent and rapidly develop them to high levels. It takes coordination between many departments in your organization, especially marketing, human resources, and sales. Executives need to help facilitate the conversations with clients regarding their needs. Over time, your company can become known the place to recruit experienced talent to fill in the middle ranks of local companies. And those individuals who truly stand out, maybe you don’t let them leave. I know that seeing a program like this at a potential employer would inspire me to consider the company more closely. It could become a serious recruiting tool.

Caring is Strategic

Even if you don’t leverage this fully, taking care of your employees this way will build long term loyalty and gratitude. Who knows how that will pay you back in the future? Those former employees will go out into the world as ambassadors of your company, more valuable than any ad budget you can throw together. It could lead to big things five to ten years down the road.

Taking the First Step

I’m not sure how to take a traditional company and turn it into this vision I’ve outlined. I know it takes courage. Most companies are too afraid of being exploited to put a program like this in place. It takes trust in the process and faith in people to do the right things. A company brave enough to try something like this definitely has a culture I’d be proud to invest my time in.

What do you think? Think it would work? How would you feel working at a company like this? I know of one major marketing company that operates like this. They want their designers to become buyers and directors in companies that could eventually come back for marketing services. I’d love to see a tech company try the same thing.