Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"S" is for silver (not tinsel) and succession

I read an interesting article on Knowledge@Wharton concerning "The Silver Tsunami"--older workers who were once feared to be exiting the workplace so quickly that the labor force coming behind wouldn't be able to supplant them. Those older workers are now staying in the workforce longer due to dwindling retirement options, and the article discusses the benefits of capitalizing on the industry knowledge these employees have to offer.

When coupled with a report from the Society for Human Resource Management dwelling on the lack of succession planning in companies, it seems like the perfect time to capture the willingness of older workers to stay, or come, out of retirement. For many employers who don't have a succession plan in place, one would think that keeping people who want to be in their organizations would be a high priority. Additionally, if the opportunity to bring back someone with institutional knowledge presents itself, a company without a strong succession plan would be wise to consider opening the fold.

Most employers would like to consider themselves desirable to workers--and workers have indicated a strong pull for being in an environment where training and progression are opportunities, not concepts alone. Although budget strings remain tight, investing in a succession plan that recognizes your current human capital and focuses on how to get the most value from it would not be time wasted. Current economics point to some shaky times remaining--and a succession plan not only benefits the business but also can instill confidence in your employees that you see a future for the company and they are part of it. Finally, we all hope that we can retire one day, and those ahead of us on the age scale are no different. Eventually, the Silver Tsunami will leave the labor force--and where will that leave you?

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