In the Winter 2016 newsletter, we asked our readers to tell us about their experiences managing across generations. As baby boomers continue to turn 65 at an astonishing rate of 10,000 per day (Pew Research), the workplace is experiencing a sharp increase in retirements – many from critical leadership positions. As such, it’s not surprising to hear so many companies list succession planning as their #1 resolution for 2017.
Responses from our readers reflect an all too common trend: many companies don’t have rock solid succession plans in place, and thus are experiencing “brain drain” when their senior leaders retire. In fact, only 11% of respondents indicate they have succession plans in place for each of their senior leaders, while a whopping 67% indicated these plans are only “sort of” in place. When asked if retirement leads to “brain drain”, or loss of critical business knowledge, 43% responded “Yes!” while only 29% said “Not so much,” and no one responded “Not at all.”
As we dug deeper into factors that may impact succession planning success, we asked readers to indicate how well their older and younger generations work together, and how well senior leaders understand what millennials are looking for in the workplace. The majority responded that their older and younger generations only sort of work well together, and most indicated their leaders don’t understand what millennials are looking for in a workplace.
Data like these can provide huge insights for resolutioners looking to impact business results through people strategy in 2017. Engaging multiple generations at work is critical for keeping talent, and succession planning protects critical company knowledge and strategy through planned and unplanned leadership transitions.
The great news for those wondering how to improve engagement and succession planning efforts is this: you may only need one action plan to start attacking both goals simultaneously. Research shows that two of the most critical factors for engaging employees of any generation, and in particular millennials, include:
- creating meaningful work experiences, and
- seeing a bright future for themselves in the organization (Joyner, 2016).
By investing in robust succession planning, companies can engage their rising leaders by providing them with pathways for development and an insight into their future possibilities, as well as linking their purpose to the larger mission of the organization. At the same time, they better position themselves to minimize the loss of knowledge and strategy during leadership transition.