Getting realistic about employee retention and replacement
Effective succession plans must include a methodology for sharing knowledge.
The terms “succession plan” and “retention” are frequently used in the context of a larger talent management strategy within an organization. The concept of identifying a group of employees or sources of future employees to replace departing workers is important – employers need to understand future sources of talent, and how to access it better than their competitors.
THE AGING WORKFORCE
One does not need to be a mathematician to realize that if the average age of the workforce is over 40, employers need to recruit replacement talent. Most employers tackle this via campus recruitment programs, social media recruitment, and management development programs for new hires. These are all important parts of any talent management solution, but what about examining one’s workplace environment?
As the generations of employees in the workplace change, so do workers’s needs, values and expectations. Employers must ensure they are creating an organizational culture that supports the needs of those joining the team. For example, graduates today look for different things than their predecessors did a decade ago.
Some of the most common expectations include:
Flexible work arrangements Mentoring and development programs Frequent performance appraisals and feedback Meaningful work Up-to-date technology A culture of trust vs. oversight
With a large percentage of employees preparing to leave the workforce, every employer should be working to retain as much corporate knowledge as possible before the mass exodus occurs. The valued employees preparing for their retirement are the holders of vast amounts of expertise. Effective succession plans must include a methodology for sharing this knowledge. Here are three ideas for how this can be achieved:
Offer part-time employment to retirees:
Many retiring employees no longer want to work full-time and year-round, but would be interested in a more flexible arrangement. Explore the concept of part-time and seasonal continued employment for this group. Flexibility is the key. Perhaps it is a short-term stint with defined days of the week. Work with retirees to determine what approach meets both their needs and those of the organization.
Work with impact:
The work should not simply be the previous position the employee held prior to retiring. Continued employment post-retirement is a partnership that needs to be respectful of the fact that the retiring person has already decided to leave their permanent position. Instead, consider a role in an advisory capacity where the former employee’s knowledge can be spread amongst several departments, projects and activities. Ask, “What knowledge does the organization need to gain from this individual?” and then plan an arrangement.
The post-retirement employee is not looking for a career. They are looking to have an impact on their previous organization. Recognize their expertise and knowledge – after all, this is why they’ve been asked to return. It may help to realize that the balance of power between employer and employee has shifted. The post-retiree does not need employment with the organization; rather it is the organization that has a need to retain its corporate knowledge.
Diversity strategies are prevalent in the workplace. Employers need to be recruiting diverse talent in order to remain competitive. However, recruiting for diversity without an inclusion strategy can be a costly mistake.
Some employers provide a forum for networking, professional development, recruiting and building relationships with local communities. This builds a relationship between employers and entire communities of individuals, which in turn elevates the understanding of each other’s needs and perspectives on the workplace. Other employers create a mentoring program that pairs high-potential performers from an under-represented group with board members for formal mentoring and career development.
This arrangement ensures that under-represented employee groups feel like they have a voice in the workplace. The fact that immigrants comprise 20 per cent of the workforce means employers who are not reaching out to and working to be more inclusive of these communities will soon find themselves facing a shortage of talent.
An outreach strategy allows employers access to all of the available talent instead of only the traditional sources. An effective strategy includes:
Advertisements in target markets:
This is no different than traditional sales. You need to advertise to the market you are trying to attract. Post jobs in community newspapers, at community groups or with organizations that do outreach, such as the YMCA or other not-for-profit groups that assist under-represented communities.
Partnering with communities:
Employers have brands. From a recruitment perspective, the brand is how an organization is viewed through the eyes of potential employees. Organizations want to ensure their brand stirs up a positive sentiment in potential talent. Effective strategies include sponsoring events, donating products to specific community organizations and sponsoring a community sports team.
Ensuring selection practices are bias-free:
Traditional recruitment methods that focus on mainstream Canadian cultural values may be causing your organization to miss out on the best candidates. Be careful not to judge candidates on cultural differences such as handshakes, eye contact or selfpromotion. Use behavioural-based interviewing techniques to ensure you give the candidate a chance to outline everything they have to offer. Susan Haywood is president of Human Resource Blueprints and a board member of the Ottawa chapter of the Human Resources Professionals Association.