5 Reasons You Should Have a Succession Plan (Even If You Don't Want to)

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Organizations no longer have the luxury of hiring everyone from the outside. Now more than ever, they need to develop talent from within — which is where succession planning comes in. The goal, of course, is to have talent ready at the time an opening occurs.

It's absolutely essential for organizations to think about the "what ifs" associated with an employee not being able or available to do their job. That's why the process of identifying and developing new talent who can replace current employees when they become incapacitated, resign or retire is important.

5 Reasons to Revisit Succession Planning

Organizations need to be aware of the possibilities within their workforce of baby boomers headed for retirement. Further, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that median employee tenure has dropped (to 4.2 years as of January 2016), signaling an increase in voluntary resignations. Indicators point to an increasing number of employees feeling confident they can find work that better meets their needs.

At any given moment in time, your HR department could be faced with a job opening. We have a tendency to only think of succession planning in the context of senior-level positions, but really any job opening could be worth considering for succession planning. Here are five reasons that HR leaders should put succession planning on their to-do list.

1. It's taking longer to find qualified candidates

In 2016, the average time to fill a job opening was 42 days according to SHRM. Using that number, organizations need to decide if they can live with a job opening for six weeks plus the productivity curve (when they do hire someone).

2. It's becoming harder to find skilled candidates

The Association for Talent Development reports that 87 percent of organizations have challenges finding skilled candidates. Those challenges impact business performance, customer service and growth.

3. Training is cheaper than recruiting

The longer it takes to hire a qualified employee, the more expensive it can be. Even if an employee isn't 100 percent ready to take on their new role, being 85 percent ready is better (and often less expensive) than hiring from the outside.

4. Training employees could improve engagement and retention

Employees want to know they have a future with the organization. One way to demonstrate that is with training and development. You don't have to tell employees they're a part of the succession plan. Consider providing training in problem-solving, conflict resolution, collaboration and decision-making.

5. Succession planning isn't as hard as it sounds

It's possible that the reason many organizations don't have a succession plan is because the process is perceived to be administratively burdensome. However, the good news is that technology can assist with succession planning. Managers and employees can set career development goals and conduct regular one-on-one meetings to monitor progress.

Succession Planning Should Be Part of Every Recruiting Strategy

Admittedly, succession planning takes planning and resources. Don't wait until it becomes a talent crisis. The best time to think about it is when your organization can put training programs in place. Budget a small amount for talent development and use the funds. It might be tempting to leave money on the table, but that could only hurt your business in the long run.

If you haven't thought about succession planning lately, it might be a good time to consider it. Recruiting is getting tougher every day and talent continues to be an organization's key differentiator.

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