Philly is getting a lot of positive hype these days, but a majority of senior executives say they'd skip town for the right opportunity.

"We're more at risk of losing talent than gaining talent," said John Touey, a principal at Salveson Stetson Group, an executive-search firm in Radnor that surveyed 863 upper-management executives in its database of potential or prospective job candidates.

Even though seven in 10 said they were satisfied with their jobs, eight in 10 said they were either actively looking for new positions or would consider moving for the right jobs. Nearly 9 percent said they'd like to find work in a different part of the country.

Touey said he was surprised that so many people - most of them 20 years into their careers - would be so willing to move, particularly given the recent positive publicity for this region.

"It's a region where people grow up, go to school, work, and stay," he said, adding that he assumed they would be less of a "flight risk."

Touey thinks this group is probably the first generation of senior managers - in line to advance to vice president, senior vice president, and executive-suite jobs - to have internalized fully the idea that companies no longer offer jobs for life and that employees have to manage their own careers.

During the recession and its aftermath, he said, senior managers were "reticent to make a move" because if the new job didn't work out, "people were assuming it would be difficult to find a new position."

Also, he said, "companies were tightening their belts, so there were fewer opportunities."

That has shifted "in terms of people willing to talk about opportunities" in what has become, Touey said, a seller's market for employees.

To retain their talent, companies need to stay in touch with employees and show them a path for opportunities, advancement, and salary increases, Touey said. Both employees looking to relocate and those who are staying value corporate culture and salary, with corporate culture just slightly more important than pay.

Locally, Comcast was named the most desirable employer, but most respondents had no preference, instead focusing on corporate attributes such as positive image, innovation, values, and work environment.

The executives surveyed said that in communities, safety matters most, followed by housing and education.

The survey results indicated that half of the executives ranked Philadelphia as average or below in providing those attributes, Touey said. But the survey did not specifically ask participants about whether the region as a whole met those criteria.

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@JaneVonBergen