Americans continue to change jobs at a record pace. Since mid-2021, more than 4 million workers per month have voluntarily left their jobs. Not surprisingly, 47% of Human Resource (HR) leaders say recruiting and retention are their top challenges in 2023. But while flexible work arrangements and pay transparency grab the headlines as potential solutions, HR professionals shouldn’t overlook a crucial tool that helps attract and retain top talent — succession planning.
Without strategic succession plans, companies often find themselves in a bind when key employees leave, taking valuable institutional knowledge and expertise with them. Positions often remain unfilled for months at a time. Or worse, accelerated hiring efforts result in an executive mismatch that creates more turnover down the road.
Effective succession planning does more than anticipate the next steps for filling an open position. It also creates internal development strategies that prepare employees to step into the role. Along with seamless transitions, succession planning cultivates a culture of career progression, which can significantly impact employee retention. Sixty-three percent of employees say better access to career development would make them more likely to stay at their current employer.
Still, only one in five companies has a formal succession plan in place. For many, it comes down to not knowing where to start. Take these five steps to jumpstart succession planning within your organization.
1. Define the scope.
Succession planning identifies critical positions and creates action plans to ensure minimal disruption when key employees get promoted or leave the company. Along with executive positions, consider other roles throughout the organization that would create significant disruptions to the business if current employees leave. Be sure to include unique roles that require specialized expertise in your succession plan.
2. Identify critical success factors.
Once you’ve identified the positions to include in your succession planning, outline the competencies, skills and institutional knowledge needed for each. Job-specific details will help expedite recruiting efforts when you need to fill a position with an external candidate. In addition, the information will serve as a guide when designing career development plans.
3. Map your talent.
To avoid recruiting scrambles when key positions open up, make talent mapping a regular part of your HR strategy. Talent mapping evaluates your workforce to identify high-potential employees and their development needs. Go beyond current staffing requirements to anticipate potential industry changes and company growth to create a talent pool that keeps up with future business needs.
4. Cultivate career development.
Make employees part of the process so they understand the business needs and can see a clear path for career advancement. Work with employees to tie their development to specific career-progression goals. Then, make applicable training and education programs accessible.
5. Tap into succession planning expertise.
With many HR teams stretched to their limits, succession planning sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Collaborating with outside experts who specialize in leadership recruitment is an effective way to optimize your talent pipelines, make the right hiring decisions and keep your succession strategies on track.
Navigate succession planning and executive hiring with confidence. Download our Buyer’s Guide to Executive Search or connect with us to gain valuable data and insights that will help you select the right recruitment partner for your business.