The best management strategy is encouraging employees to be open about next steps in their career, according to top tech companies like Netflix and LinkedIn.
Executives at these companies have said publicly that they have no problem with employees interviewing for other jobs – in fact, they sometimes want to help them with the process.
Some research suggests that employee departures can bolster the company’s and the manager’s image, if the employees leave for high-status competitors
Interviewing for a job while you have another job can be tricky – often you end up lying to your current employer about why you’re late to work or stuffing a suit jacket under your desk so no one asks why you look so spiffy today.
And yet if you ask executives at some top tech companies, they’ll tell you this whole process is ridiculous.
A growing number of tech companies say they want to know when their employees are looking at other jobs. And instead of considering the employees traitorous, they’ll sometimes go out of their way to help the employees land those other roles.
Consider Netflix, famous for its culture of “freedom and responsibility.” Its website reads: “Knowing that other companies would quickly hire you if you left Netflix is comforting. We see occasional outside interviewing as healthy, and encourage employees to talk with their managers about what they learn in the process.”
Patty McCord, Netflix’s former chief talent officer, previously told Business Insider that this openness has a number of potential benefits. For example, McCord said, interviewing can help you clarify your professional goals because you may be more honest with the hiring manager than you are with your boss. On the other hand, it can make you appreciate your current company more.
Ryan Bonnici, chief marketing officer of G2 Crowd, a platform for sharing business-software reviews, writes in the Harvard Business Review that he encourages his best employees to consider outside job offers.
According to Bonnici, this practice helps him attract and even retain top performers. One reason why, he writes, is that when great employees leave on good terms, “out in the world, they’ll be in a powerful position to speak honestly about their experiences. If they leave our company feeling good about us, they’ll speak positively about the brand.” Some employees may even be inclined to return to G2 Crowd later on.
Bonnici cites the inspiration of Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn, who writes in HBR that talking about an employee’s outside job offers fosters trust and honesty in the workplace.
Jellyvision, which makes interactive-benefits-communication software, has a “graceful leaving policy” to help both the company and its employees. As Erica Keswin details in her book “Bring Your Human to Work,” Jellyvision asks employees to notify the company when they start looking for a new job – and in return, the company helps the employee in their job search.
Mary Beth Wynn, Jellyvision’s senior vice president of people, echoed Bonnici’s sentiments in an interview with Lauren Dixon at Talent Economy: “Out in the world, they’ll be in a powerful position to speak honestly about their experiences. If they leave our company feeling good about us, they’ll speak positively about the brand.”
Facebook, meanwhile, makes sure that all employees have succession plans, Business Insider’sRichard Feloni reported. That way, the company isn’t slowed down by people changing roles or leaving the company.
Some management research lends credence to the idea that you should help your employees build fulfilling careers – even if it’s not at your company.
In his book “Superbosses,” Dartmouth business professor Sydney Finkelstein writes that the best managers don’t try to hold onto employees forever. In fact, Finkelstein argues, 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.
And a 2017 study, published in the Strategic Management Journal and cited in The Wall Street Journal, found that when lawyers leave their firms for promotions at high-status competitors, their former firms are subsequently perceived as more prestigious.
To be sure, the willingness to help employees move on may go hand-in-hand with other, less savory aspects of workplace culture. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on Netflix, suggesting that many employees are in constant fear of losing their jobs. (Indeed, McCord previously told Business Insider that, if you’re no longer meeting the company’s needs, you may very well be ousted.)
As for Bonnici, he says he’s committed to G2 Crowd employees’ development above all – even his own. He writes in HBR, “I’ve not only encouraged my employees to look elsewhere but also told them that I keep an eye out for potential new jobs for myself as well.”