How Succession Planning Can Boost Your Engagement

Succession planning sort of feels like signing up for life insurance or investing in your retirement. It’s not something you need today, and you’ve managed thus far, so why think about it? And couldn’t you just figure it out when the time comes?

Sure, you could get away with not having these things in place, and what if they were in place? Your loved ones would be pretty relieved you had life insurance should a tragic event occur. And you would be a lot less stressed being able to comfortably retire when the time comes.

Same goes for succession planning. Who wants to think about the long-term when there is so much to do in the short-term? Your employees want you to, actually.

We’ve spoken to hundreds of employees over the course of our work, and you’d be surprised how often this comes up. Succession planning is not just for small, family-owned companies who need to plan for when the founding owners retire. It’s more than that. Yes, planning for leadership turnover is part of it, but it also includes your workforce.

Why Does It Matter That My Employees Care?

You’d be surprised to learn that having a succession plan in place impacts employee engagement. I know, right? Who would have thought? According to a recent study conducted by Software Advice, a company that provides reviews of HR and talent management software, there are some pretty illuminating figures:

  • 94% of employers reported that succession plans positively impact employee engagement
  • 62% of employees reported that they would be “significantly more engaged” if their company had a succession plan in place
  • 90% of employees age 18-34 reported an increased level of engagement when working at a company with a succession plan in place

Where Do I Start?

There are many elaborate ways to put into place a succession plan, and if you haven’t started, it can be daunting. Here are some questions to think about:

  1. Do you have a good grasp on where your employees stand in their careers? Are there people who are considering retiring, who would like to move into management, who have promising leadership skills? Having these kinds of conversations on a regular basis avoids any surprises and you can plan for ways to keep your high performers motivated.
  2. Are you documenting processes and important knowledge as you go? It may be tedious but if someone departs a role briskly without some documentation of how they did their job, you could waste days upon days trying to figure it out. Think about how often you forget your passwords for various logins. Multiply that by a lot more complex workflows and you’ve got a conundrum.
  3. Is career progression and movement clear to you and employees? The benefits of this are twofold: roles are clearly defined so you can train newcomers and plan for capacity and employees have a clear picture of what their career might look like.
  4. Have you identified high performers? Who are the people you can nurture to someday fill a leadership role? Starting early could be the difference.

Think about it – having life insurance gives your family peace of mind, a 401k gives you and your spouse confidence in retirement. It makes sense having a clear succession plan at a company would positively impact its employees. No one (well mostly) likes the unexpected. 

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps organizations build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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