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Undercover Manager Activities

Chapter 10: Retaining Employees

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10.1 The "Right" Company

Undercover Manager 

Activity 10.1 

The "Right" Company

In Chapter 10 (Retaining Employees), we explain that some voluntary turnover can be avoided if companies successfully “embed” employees and create fit, links and sacrifice. But fit is dynamic, because employees’ skills and interests change over time. Therefore, any discussion of employee retention has to consider career management. Some companies, like Nordavionics and Richer Sounds, have designed career management systems with long term retention in mind. Other companies, like lululemon athletica, accept that employees will outgrow their jobs to pursue careers elsewhere in the industry. This activity is designed to help you evaluate your organization on a series of dimensions associated with long-term retention.

Burning Glass Institute (a US think tank) conducted a five-year analysis of career mobility for millions of workers that assessed companies along nine dimensions. The American Opportunity Index website ( provides detailed information about Burning Glass’ exact measures and the companies that align with Burning Glass’ profiles. You don’t need to access specific data from your own organization; you can rely on your observations of coworkers’ career paths and assess your organization in terms of (1) access (e.g., does the employer hire inexperienced workers or workers without advanced degrees?); (2) pay (e.g., are wages competitive within the industry or do employees increase wages by moving to other employers?); and (3) mobility (e.g., how often – and how quickly – does the employer promote from within rather than filling roles from outside?). You can use your answers to those questions to link your employer with one of Burning Glass’ profiles: career growth, career launchpad, career stability, advancement without a degree, or growing talent. Then you can use Burning Glass’ diagnostic questions (Sigelman, et al., 2022, p. 30) to reflect on the role your employer’s recruitment, training and performance management practices play in employee retention.


Pick the right company:

Our Methodology. (2022). American Opportunity Index. https://www.americanopportunity‌   

Sigelman, M., Fuller, J., Dawson, N., & Levanon, G. (2022, October). The American Opportunity Index [Report].‌/AOI_2022_Final_Report.pdf  

Weber, L., & Francis, T. (2022, October 14). Want to get ahead? Pick the right company. The Wall Street Journal.

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