Succession planning is the process for identifying, training and developing members of staff who can replace a colleague in a vital role, should they choose to leave the company or retire.
The ideal situation for a business is to never have a key role open which another skilled employee cannot step into. This will require an organisation to retain employees and promote talent management; all the way from recruitment, through to when an employee announces their intention to retire.
Even smaller businesses can carry out succession planning through cross-training. If an employee is absent, then it makes good business sense to have someone else within the team who can do their job while they are away.
Succession planning and talent management have several advantages for a business:
Employees will know that there is the potential for them to progress within the organisation. This boosts the desire for career development and increases morale.
Identifying talented employees and giving them a career path will help an organisation retain their best people. This makes training and development a worthwhile long-term investment.
Employees will be ready to step in should a more senior member of staff leave or retire. This smooth transition helps keep productivity high.
Important knowledge and skills will not be lost when certain staff members leave. The eventuality will have been planned for, so knowledge will be shared organisation-wide.
Skilled employees will often share the values of the organisation, and so will be more engaged in their role. They will be more motivated to succeed and give better customer service.
From 6 April 2011, employers are no longer able to issue notifications of retirement to employees on the basis of the (now repealed) default retirement age provisions.
The statutory retirement procedure has also been abolished. Only in exceptional cases can a compulsory retirement be justified on the basis of a real business need. If an employer “retires” an employee where it is not objectively justified and where there is no other fair reason for dismissal, the dismissal will amount to unlawful age discrimination and an unfair dismissal.
The decision to retire and its timing is now a matter of choice for the employee rather than the employer. Many employees will still want to retire, depending on their individual circumstances and lifestyle choices.
If an employee has decided that he or she wishes to retire, they should inform their employer in writing as far in advance as possible and in accordance with the notice period set out in their contract of employment. This will assist the employer with its succession planning.
An employee who is soon to retire will often have considerable knowledge in relation to their role and responsibilities. The employer may require the employee’s assistance and co-operation for succession planning.
Prior to retirement, employees should cooperate with the employer if requested to do so by:
Providing full written details of the status of work projects and future steps.
Developing a job description, including key competencies and skills required for the role.
Ensuring a smooth handover of work; and assisting in training their successor.