As employers face the fact that some of their key employees are departing, human resource professionals will scramble to design and implement employee retention programs. Too often incentive gifts and cash are promoted as retention solutions, but these are inadequate business tactics.
Succession management is recommended as a wise retention strategy. This comprehensive program includes succession planning, preparation, and implementation. To be most effective in retaining talent, a succession program must be inclusive, reaching out to all employees instead of just management. This approach is different from what is seen in most employer organizations, where the succession focus is typically concentrated at the most senior levels of the corporate hierarchy.
Even at the executive level, succession management is underemphasized, according to the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment. This condition "is even more critical with an overwhelming majority of companies reporting that they will lose 50 percent of their current senior management group by 2010."
"It's rare that succession management is taken lower in the organizational hierarchy," said Roger Herman, CEO of The Herman Group of Greensboro, NC. Herman, author of Keeping Good People and a recognized pioneer and thought leader in employee retention, suggests that the emphasis is misplaced. "If a vice president doesn't come into the office one day, it may not make any difference," he observes, "but a front-line employee's absence could affect productivity and mission accomplishment."
Succession management is more critical among hourly workers and supervisors, so this is where emphasis should be placed in an employee retention strategy. Resources should be invested to retain these workers, to cross-train them, and to assure that there is sufficient back-up for every position.
Herman advises that an effective succession management process must include strategic staffing, with planning extending over five years whenever practical. People who may be offered—or asked to assume—higher positions must be educated and trained far before the need arises. Herman, a Certified Management Consultant, encourages employers to prepare each employee for several alternative career moves, and to prepare several workers for each position. "Don't make any promises," he cautions, "but focus on helping people build their eligibility for consideration for multiple opportunities."
This strategy is appropriate for all kinds of businesses, including manufacturing, retail, and service. "Employee retention is fast becoming the issue of our times," Herman observes, "and no employer will be immune to the threat. Prevention, sensitivity, and a sense of urgency will produce a competitive edge for wise employers."
The Herman Group is a firm of consulting futurists concentrating on workforce and workplace trends and their implications. Emphasis is placed on employee selection and retention as critical strategies. Included in the firm are researchers, professional speakers, authors, and consultants. The Herman Group is based in Greensboro, NC, with affiliates in Sao Paulo, Melbourne, Hong Kong, and Port Louis, Mauritius. Contact Joyce Gioia-Herman at 336-210-3548 or e-mail: email@example.com.
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