Labor Shortage Sharpens Focus on Succession Planning

Matching job openings with the right talent is never easy. If the results of a recent poll reflect reality, the heat on talent-hungry employers–as well as those at risk for losing skilled workers–is on.

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., the robust economy and tight labor market are conspiring against the 64 percent of HR executives surveyed who say they currently are hiring. The problem: Can those employers find talent with the appropriate skills for the workforce spots available?

“The one downside of a booming economy is that the churn that comes with layoffs doesn’t occur, leaving employers with few options to fill available positions,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president at the global outplacement and executive-coaching firm. “If more workers fail to enter the job market, it could lead to companies halting expansion plans or shutting down completely.”

The solution? Employers need to plan for employees retiring or moving on at all levels of the organization, Challenger advises.

While succession planning was once reserved for the C-suite, Challenger says, in these days of close to full employment, not having a talent pipeline puts growth at risk. He adds that attracting workers also means having a strong, public brand and a desirable benefit package. It’s especially true for employers looking to draw talent to rural areas, he says.

According to the survey, talent retention-driving benefits are 401(k) contributions (91 percent), competitive salary (88 percent), health benefits (83 percent), and professional development opportunities (76 percent).

To keep talent pipelines flowing, Challenger suggests strategies such as partnering with local universities or creating internal training programs as two ways to boost the odds of replacing retirees or workers who go elsewhere.

“The well-known narrative is that workers are staying in their positions too long and not making way for the next generation,” he says, but it’s simply not the case for all locations or industries. True, many skilled workers are at retirement age, but employers, without replacement talent, need them to stay.

“The market is so good some job seekers are ‘ghosting’ potential hiring authorities. Job seekers have their pick of jobs right now,” Challenger says. “Companies are pulling out all the stops to ensure workers will stay.”

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected]