LOYALTY and the notion of a secure, long-term career are becoming increasingly difficult to grasp in today’s fast pace world, says a professor of management from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
Peter Cappelli was speaking at the Wharton Executive Series The New Deal at Work: Managing the Market Driven Workforce at PJ Hilton on Monday organised by KDU Management Development Centre Sdn Bhd.
Today, this lack of loyalty is found everywhere – at the office, in the hospital, at the CEO level and among young entrants into the job market. It cut across all sectors of the economy,” he says.
Cappelli says that in the 1950s, the tenure of the president or CEO was about 10 years. This was reduced to five in the 1960s. Now it is a mere three years with Japan having the highest CEO turnover today.
“US brags about it, Japan hides it. So you think it is happening only in the US.”
Since 1995, CEO and executive team turnover is up 53%. Cappelli says this is rising twice as fast in Britain and Europe as in the US. Firing for non-performance is the biggest cause, twice that of retirement. He asks: “If the situation is such at the top, what about those below?”
Restructuring, mergers and acquisitions add to the challenges taking place around the world, at a non-stop pace.
“At one end, employers have to deal with the issue of loyalty. At the other end of the spectrum, they have to deal with the uncertainties and manage changes and challenges.
“With such a scenario, is there little wonder that companies and corporations around the world have issue with investing in their employees?”
Cappelli was speaking to about 80 participants comprising vice-presidents, directors, CEOs and managers from industries from across the board.
He says the US used to invest 2% of their payroll in their employees but this has dropped. It is a bigger problem there than over this part of the world. Here, companies are continuing to invest in their employees and they must.
“When a company invests in its employees, it is ultimately and essentially investing in the organisation,” he says.
“Staying on for years and years on the job is a fairly new phenomenon. In the 1910 and 1920, people go from job to job. Companies grew too fast, like today. And then came the 1930s and the Great Depression. The men went to war and the ladies and older men remain behind to work. After the World War Two, companies started to become more complex and the need for company specific knowledge became greater.”
The situation is pretty much the same today.
“The product cycle is becoming shorter. New products require new skills. Most companies have a one- to two-year business plan. Added to the short product cycle is variety.
“Added to this is the impatience of employees in their 20s. Young people act different from older people. They may be impatient, but they are also adaptable. With this scenario, companies cannot afford not to train.
“It is something beyond one’s control, it is driven by something out there, in the economy. As an employer, spot talent early and give opportunities before they can get it elsewhere. People thrive in challenges and opportunities. They want to know right at the beginning how far they can go with you.”