Tag Archives: succession planning

The aging population

30 Nov

Recently I was working with an organisation on some training initiatives they wanted,  the managers I was working with knew it was needed – they had the grassroots understanding of the needs of the organisation.  What they needed however to complement and support this grass roots understanding was hard data, so I got the call.  An interesting organisation, employing primarily university educated professionals, with a good demographic spread in regards to age (some other areas I need to help them with, but I might cover than in another post).  However, the good spread of ages within the organisation hid an alarming fact – a fact which is lurking in many organisations.  Over the next five years this particular organisation can expect to lose 30% of its workforce purely through retirement, the baby boomers preparing to leave the building as they say, and once it starts organisations like this will bleed employees faster than they can comprehend.

Solutions are not easily applied, outsourcing wont work, the industry has specific skill shortages which are only getting worse (this is before the baby boomer exit is taken into account – these shortages are also not just local, there are global skill shortages in this profession).  One would consider that the pending exit of employees would be a focus of the organisation?  Actually no, no its not.  The issues are meaty, they’re challenging, the organisation is competing for university graduates that can earn more in other jurisdictions or indeed in other professions.  But the largest challenge, the single largest challenge to gain some traction on this issue?  The people that are leaving are also the ones who make the decisions in this organisation, the 30% that are leaving through retirement comprise of most of the executive, most senior managers, and many of the senior advisers within the organisation.  As Nicolas Cage so aptly put it in Lord of War, ‘those that know don’t care, those that care don’t know’.  When I speak to people about this, they either think I’m joking, or simply shrug and admit its a concern – unfortunately that’s where the concern starts and ends.

For those who aren’t patient of course, this exit has already started.  In the city I mostly work in, I can cite an example of a very senior member of an organisation who declared his intent to retire.  This intent was common knowledge for sometime (read: months of advance notice) before they departed.  This organization went for four months before they were able to find an acting replacement, literally a couple of months latter the individual came out of retirement to assist the organisation in their old role.  The organisation was incredibly lucky that they managed to attract this person back from the golf course and beach front, however being lucky is not a business strategy.  Succession management is a business strategy, unfortunately in the current environment its a strategy which is not being implemented as well as is required.

Is your organisation prepared for the exit of its baby boomers?  As always keen to hear your thoughts on this topic.