Retention risk

In industry, we had a term called “Retention risk”.  I know there are other terms to describe this, but basically it’s the concept of some employees are more mobile than others.  One can always get a big raise or promotion if they’re willing to switch between companies.  I knew many people that did this and in industry it’s the norm.  People need to do what’s best for themselves as the company would drop you at the slightest hint of needing to provide a boost to the shareholders.  So when we, as management, see that an employee is behaving differently we have to think about how critical the person is to the business and if we should go extra lengths to preemptively stop them from performing a job search.  Once the call was made that someone was critical to the business then a promotion would be set up, or at least a large raise.  I had to do this at times, and I notice this happened with other departments pretty frequently.  And if the manager was too slow to act, the person would frequently be gone.  Side note: women employees were less mobile, in general, but also managers just wouldn’t think they’re as critical.  Ladies, be mobile, remember that the company owes you nothing, and let your managers know when you’re not happy.  The people that were rooted were usually less likely to be rewarded with promotions because managers knew their efforts were better spent on keeping the retention risks.

When I was an undergrad it seemed that all my professors were very well-established and were going to be staying their whole careers at my school.  In graduate school, I realized that some profs see an opportunity elsewhere and jump on it.  Especially if they’re not getting the support from their current school.  This went very counter to how I saw academia: stable.  I don’t know if this is a recent trend, or if I’m just noticing it right now, but I see a lot of professors switching between schools.  I mentioned in a recent post that this is happening with a mentor of mine, my PI recently did it, and a handful of friends, as well.

So this brings me to last week where the department head was asking me if I wanted to expand my lab space and asked which class I want to teach next semester.  I brought this up to my old PI and he said that there’s word on the (nerdy) street that I’m interested in this one particular school that hasn’t even contacted me.  I’m always open to new opportunities, but only if it’s actually an opportunity.   This is clearly just some shitty rumor maybe to get me to leave?  I have no idea how it could have started.  I have no intention whatsoever to leave in the near-future.  I always had the mentality that a company would drop me at the smallest sign of a market swing, so I had as much loyalty as they had to me (very little).  I don’t feel like that here, but I’ll take what I can get, I guess.

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