Insights Blog

Building for Internal Growth and Retention

April 10, 2022
rock ship following upward trend of a graph

We speak to thousands of candidates each year and almost everyone tells us they are looking for some kind of growth – seniority, job function, compensation, or some other personal definition of growth. One thing seems very clear: the reason candidates are interested in considering a new role is often because they don’t feel like they are currently achieving acceptable career growth.

On the flipside, most organizations are seeking to keep their good people in place – but creating opportunities for internal growth is not always straightforward. This leaves many to rely on the basic formula of small annual raises, and waiting for vacancies in their pyramid to open up. The problem is that by definition, these openings are few – so not many people are feeling the growth.

With this in mind, I’d like to highlight 3 organizations that do a particular good job at providing internal growth: Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, and PVH. In an admittedly unscientific study of non-executive LinkedIn profiles in NYC, we have found the following:

Combined Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, and PVH

Average tenure of 7.2 years in 2.6 roles

Basket of other Luxury Fashion and Jewelry Brands without strong internal growth programs

Average tenure of 4.1 years in 1.3 roles

These numbers seem to indicate a basic yet important finding: if you can help your teams progress into more internal roles, they will stay longer! In our outside assessment, each of these firms employ some effective strategies, including a few below I will highlight:

Rotation programs, open to all but especially focused on junior talent

Following the mastery of their current role, company culture and practice encourages movement into another role. This could be a promotion into a more senior position, but just as often is rotation into a related but different function. The result is that their teams are more well-rounded, have a higher level of understanding of their colleagues, and are more prepared for eventual promotion when it’s available.

Openness to moving pyramids

Related to above, department leaders are more open to other backgrounds when considering new hires or transfers. They are open to a learning period, instead of requiring direct experience in a role. This allows for that “growth” people are looking for, after all.

A company-wide commitment to keeping great people and providing engaging opportunities for growth through meaningful succession planning activities

HR is not the only group of people thinking and acting to drive retention and employee development. Instead, it’s a shared focus among department and HR leaders. Only with this company dedication and focus can you make internal growth and retention a reality. 

Compared to the luxury industry average, these programs can drive real retention improvement

+3.1 years average tenure (+75%)

(Based on our unscientific study)

Most professionals will regularly ask themselves: where is this role taking me and is that where I want to go? If you want to keep them, be sure they have an answer that includes your company! It’s certainly not easy work – and no coincidence that 3 of the best in the industry are also 3 of the biggest organizations, who have the team and budgets to dedicate to retention. But the result is better teams and ultimately stronger business.

About the contributor
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William Brobston

William Brobston spent 15 years in the luxury retail industry, holding senior leadership roles with European and American luxury apparel & fine jewelry brands before launching Brobston Group in 2017.


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