Succession planning is no longer a luxury, it is a necessity.
As the workforce ages, the impact can be felt everywhere. This change is coming and can’t be stopped — change unplanned
and forced upon us by the relentless march of time and demographics. Business leaders need to determine where we are heading, and plan for these changes before they occur. If we do too little, or are too late, our businesses will pay a painful price as our knowledge workers retire, our leaders suddenly disappear from the scene and their replacements are few, far between and expensive.
Recruiting efforts are already beginning to change, as more companies realize they must learn to recruit and retain older workers to help fill growing shortages. Flexible time arrangements, benefits programs for part-timers, work-from home arrangements and programs to show appreciation and respect for older and more experienced workers are all on the increase. Traditional methods of reaching potential employees may well need to change, too. While many older workers spend time on the internet, they spend their time in different places than young “gamers” and fresh college graduates.
Recruiters will need to change their communication efforts accordingly.
Hiring of new workers will become more difficult as the economy continues to improve and high quality worker shortages develop. Workers can and will demand more—more compensation, benefits, flexibility and more respect, before they cast their lot with a prospective employer. Employers caught between rising costs and increasing cost competition from overseas may face a real dilemma if they are counting on traditional methods of accomplishing their hiring goals.
Use Assessments For Succession Planning
It’s a simple fact – it’s cheaper to keep and develop your existing employees than it is to find new ones.
Many employers have already discovered the cost savings associated with retaining the workers they already have and avoiding the pressures of recruiting a constantly revolving set of new hires. Systematic use of assessment tools to help place people in jobs where they fit can positively impact these efforts.
Succession planning becomes even more important, when the stream of replacement talent dries up. The consequences of failing to plan for the successor for the CEO may be obvious, and as most companies have recognized, they cannot afford to fail in this responsibility. Middle management levels, however, are often overlooked, with disastrous consequences.
Look around your office. How many of the people doing middle management work are 50 or over? How long will they be with you? Who will replace them? How will you identify the replacements, and what will you need to do to develop and train them?
An assessment and training program put in place now, can help to head off a real crisis in leadership five years down the road. Mentoring programs, using senior workers to help bring newer workers up to higher levels in skill and responsibility, are increasingly popular, but mentors must be carefully selected and trained in the art of mentoring.
Recognizing this complex set of challenges, some North American businesses have begun to systematically identify their “non-core competencies,” looking for areas where they can profitably outsource some of their business needs, allowing them to focus on retention, skill development and succession planning in the areas which are their core competencies, those areas giving them their unique competitive advantage. One or more of these approaches may be right for your business. Change is coming, ready or not!