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Retensa’s Top 10 “Biggest Quits” of 2009

Annual review of the most significant voluntary resignations in the United States.

New York, NY, January, 2010 – In a year characterized by a volatile job market, a lucky few had the luxury to resign. Previously justifiable reasons for resignation were overlooked in light of the “Great Recession.” Executives, like the rest of the workforce, held fast as job security dwindled. CEO turnover decreased from the highs we saw in 2008. Although double digit unemployment was enough of a deterrent for most to restrain, we did find several individuals who could (and did) quit this year. Accordingly, we present the annual publication of Retensa’s Top 10 “Biggest Quits” and the most influential turnover stories of 2009.

Criteria : Only U.S.-based departures qualify for inclusion on Retensa’s official “Biggest Quits” List. To make The Top 10, Retensa applies three criteria: (1) the magnitude of impact in the individuals’ industry or field, (2) the financial loss or loss of influence of the enduring organization, and (3) the degree to which the enduring organization is unprepared to respond.

 

Honorable Mention

 

Wendelin Wiedeking (CEO): Porsche (Non US-based and therefore outside of official consideration)

Wendelin Wiedeking revved Porsche’s engine like no CEO since Ferdinand Porsche himself. Narrowly avoiding bankruptcy when he took over in 1993, Wiediking paved a new road toward a strong, independent Porsche amidst industry consolidation. To do so, he applied Japanese manufacturing efficiencies and redefined expectations of what could wear the famous shield. The Boxster thrilled enthusiasts, critics and well-heeled commuters alike, and weaned Porsche from its dangerous reliance on fickle buyers of the legendary, yet mid-life-crisis-priced, 911. Wiedeking, famous for his motto of “no risk, no fun” then made his biggest “bet the company” wager yet. Launching the Cayenne horrified Porsche purists who saw only a 2-ton, 4-door behemoth. Ultimately, Wiedeking’s bet arrived at the sweet-spot of America’s love affair with large, while turning Porsche into one of the world’s most profitable automakers. Interestingly, his last “bet the company” move, an improbable attempt to buy the German behemoth Volkswagen, was too ambitious. In the end, VW took over Porsche and Wiedeking retired from the corner office. Notable for being the last great independent automaker, who dreamed big and delivered, he is likely inspiring a legion of auto start-ups in the electric and hybrid arena.

 

Conclusions

The year 2009, and the first decade of the millennium, has been an era of juxtaposition. Extremes abound in politics, the weather, and the economy. Social media ensures that news travels faster than ever, and yet, 2009 was for most a year long phone call on hold. We were all ready, just waiting for the “other end” to pick up. While 10 percent of America is unemployed, another 7 percent is underemployed, having given up looking, or forced to take a part time job. And the paradox is, those with a job are as unhappy as ever, 55% in fact. If you employ staff under 25, 64% are dissatisfied.10 Maybe losing all your friends at work, doing 3 employee’s job, and a salary freeze is not as fun as it used to be. And what is the impact of that? Many organizations have cut their social, professional, and financial benefits in 2009. Is it possible that the employees left are counting the days, watching the clock, and checking the job boards (while you are paying them?) They are here now, but history tells us, turnover will increase as unemployment decreases. Not having the ability to resign now, will lead to dramatic retention challenges when the job market starts getting better. Individuals will begin to see sprouts of opportunity in other places and will take action. Fortunately, approximately 94% of turnover is preventable. If employee issues exist, there are many causes. Now is a good time, while your good employees are still with you, to understand and address them. If you are the employer, when the “other end” picks up, you may no longer be on the call.

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1) The New York Times, The Caucus, “Specter Switches Parties” (April 2009)

2) The Economic Times, “AIG left without HR head in midst of pay crisis” (December 2009)

3) The Wall Street Journal, “CEO Quits at Meat Giant Tyson” (January 2009)

4) The New York Times, “Lisa Leslie, the Face of the W.N.B.A., Prepares for Life After Basketball” (August 2009)

5) TechCrunch.com, “Google Ad Chief Tim Armstrong Replaces Randy Falco As Chairman And CEO Of AOL” (March 2009)

6) The New York Times, Week in Review, “David H. Souter: Justice Unbound” (May 2009)

7) ESPN.com, “Dungy retires after 7 seasons with Colts” (January 2009)

8) Indianapolis Business Journal, “Influential Women: Deirdre Connelly” (November 2007)

9) EOnline.com, “Tiger Woods’ Indiscretions Cost Sponsors $12 Billion” (December 2009)

10) The Conference Board, “U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level in Two Decades” (January 2010)

Retensa is a leader and innovator of Employee Retention Strategies. They combine experience and web-based technology to develop, motivate, and retain a company’s best employees. Retensa builds solutions and HR metrics to help firms reduce turnover and create a high-performing workforce. To create the “Retention Environment,” Retensa provides additional expertise in Leadership Development, Performance Management, Mentoring, On-line Employee Surveys, On-line Exit Interviews, HR Metrics, and Succession Planning. For more information on employee retention strategies visit: www.retensa.com or call 212.545.1280.

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