Get­ting re­al­is­tic about em­ployee re­ten­tion and re­place­ment

Ef­fec­tive suc­ces­sion plans must in­clude a method­ol­ogy for shar­ing knowl­edge.

Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Succession Planning -

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.


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.

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