Retensa’s Top 10 “Biggest Quits” of 2018
The year loyalty died
New York, NY, December 2018 –Employee loyalty is not a switch, it is a spectrum. And the “Four I’s of Loyalty”, each push and pull against each other in an emotional tug of war toward fulfillment. The volume of quits this year diminished the gravity of 3 of the 4 I’s. The Individual, the Institution, and a shared Ideology driving loyalty all lost influence. Because the 1st “I’ (myself) overwhelmed the others, turnover rates reached record highs in almost every industry. Personal interests prevailed, and 2018 may be the year the loyalty died. Is it permanent, or can organizational loyalty return? Not on its own. It will take targeted effort to increase commitment, and focus attention away from distractions that lure staff away.
Turnover is now a news item. The steady stream of separations at the White House persists, former big quitters re-quit this year, and brazen departures make headlines every week. It reinforces the universal struggle with staff turnover. With a constant stream of your employee’s witnessing other workplace’s pictures, parties, and progress, some people are captivated by FOMO more than ever. In 2018, Retensa followed all of it, and saw turnover occur in 3 trends:
TREND 1: Long-time leaders are leaving. For some, like Pepsi and Lord & Taylor, it is a leader’s time to retire. Others see an impetus for fresh ideas and energy vital to invigorate strategy and stay competitive. The transition from one long standing leader to another is delicate and presents a real challenge for every firm.
TREND 2: “Unicorns” have turnover too. Organizations which rapidly expanded and became billion dollar icons of innovation can be victims of their own success. Companies like Tesla and WhatsApp lose individuals who have been with the organization since its inception. Or recently acquired founders move quickly to pursue new opportunities. Is the hockey-stick growth curve sustainable when no one stays to play hockey?
TREND 3: Shameless quits. Whether it is on the field or on TV, quitters are boldly leaving where no one has left before. Like a defensive back retiring, in the MIDDLE of a nationally televised football game. Despite previous success and future opportunities, can anything be done to stop the parade of talent parading towards the exit? Historically low unemployment may influence the modern employee toward a different sense of loyalty.
Now in its fourteenth publishing, Retensa’s “Big Quits” identifies the year’s most significant resignations across all industry, sport, government, and business. Though not always for the “right” reasons, these are quits that did not help the remaining institution. We present Retensa’s Top 10 “Big Quits” – the most intriguing turnover stories of 2018.
Why this is a Big Quit: CEO of IMAX Entertainment, Greg Foster, both expanded the screens for crowds to watch box office movies, and expanded IMAX beyond being a novelty and exhibitor for museum documentaries. Leading (and growing) the company since the pre-streameolithic era of 2001, he started as President of filmed entertainment and was a key force in expanding business to entertainment as well as internationally. With Netflix, Amazon, Hulu et al…providing instant home delivery, this is a make-or-break moment for live movie...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: Apparently $27.9 million (a 61% pay increase in 2017) is not enough to keep Ian Read hooked as CEO of Pfizer. After 40 years as a company lifer, for 8 years as CEO, Ian Read steps aside to Executive Chairman of the board of directors. While Pfizer and its competitors took hits on their reputation for increasing drug prices, the market is happy with Read’s performance: he returned over $120 billion to shareholders. Read did not accomplish this without side effects, he slashed headcount to 80,000 from...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: Timothy Mayopoulos is leaving Fannie Mae (6 Years as CEO) after leading the behemoth mortgage financing firm (Fortune #21) to financial stability post-housing-crash of 2008. He brought the firm to be profitable, while paying the billions of dollars Fannie Mae received in bailouts from the federal government. It arrives at a time where the company faces unusually declining demand for chicken and falling meat prices. During his tenure, Hayes was able to beef up some of Tyson’s presence in prepared...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: This isn’t the first time a CEO, ahem…chickened out…from Tyson Foods after 2 years on the job. Tom Hayes announced in September that he will step down for personal reasons and be succeeded by a company veteran. It arrives at a time where the company faces unusually declining demand for chicken and falling meat prices. During his tenure, Hayes was able to beef up some of Tyson’s presence in prepared foods by acquiring several companies, including Keystone Foods, the supplier of McDonald’s...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: J.C. Penney loses its sixth CEO since 2000 to become CEO of home improvement retailer Lowe’s. Marvin Ellison apologized to employees via video announcing his resignation, citing the progress that has been made in the last years. Ellison was credited with improving the 116-year old organization operations and reducing debt. Why this is not as big as the Top 10: Ellison made progress improving J.C. Penney’s balance sheet in his short tenure. However, J.C. Penney struggles to grow their customer base and...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: The plot thickens at Campbell’s Soup Company as Denise Morrison abruptly quit after seven years. As the core business turned sour from the alternative fresh/healthy food movement, she spearheaded diversification of products. Morrison pushed aggressive expansion through widely lauded acquisitions including superfood juicer Bolthouse Farms, organic soup/beverage maker Pacific Foods, and snack champ Snyder’s Lance (see every shelf in the potato chips, nuts, and popcorn aisle). Why this is not as big as the Top...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: Snap’s VP of Marketing and Brand Identity, Steve LaBella just ghosted his company. His…untimely departure…comes after a challenging year where Snapchat’s controversial redesign led to its first ever decline in active users and a $353.31 million net loss. LaBellla’s exit coincides with CEO Evan Spiegel’s announcement to change marketing and communications in order to educate advertisers about how to use the app. Why this is not as big as the Top 10: SteveLaBella isn’t...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: After losing the COO to Seattle’s proposed expansion team, the NFL gets tackled again and loses its Chief Marketing Officer, Dawn Hudson. Given the executive leadership changes in the NFL this year, another leadership vacancy leaves the today’s only national football club wide open for interception by TWO other clubs opening in the next 18 months. Say what now? Yes, there is a new AAF Pro Football League in 2019, and also…wait for it…an XFL re-launch in 2020. So that’s going to leave a mark. Why this is not...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: Some trends never go out of style. Darcy Penick is going back to former employer (Bergdorf Goodman), after nine years at Amazon owned e-retailer Shopbop. Penick led Shopbop for the last 2 years as CEO, improving customer engagement through digital and editorial content. Neiman Marcus (BG’s parent company) hopes that those ecommerce talents will be put to good use back at the luxury competitor. Why this is not as big as the Top 10:Superstars like Darcy Penick get whisked back into their former organizations because they...read more
Why this is a Big Quit: The most loveable, big yellow bird is leaving Sesame Street. Maybe not flying away, but Mr. Caroll Spinney, the dedicated voice and puppeteer of Big Bird will retire from Sesame Street after a remarkable 50 years. In addition to playing the iconic goldenrod fowl, Spinney also played Oscar, the cranky trash-loving grouch. Spinney developed those characters crafting magical lessons and stories for generations of children across the world. Why this is not as big as the Top 10:We hope Caroll won’t be a grouch about not...read more