Strategic Workforce Planning


By | News | January 27, 2015 | 0 comment

The Conference Board of Canada recently released its “HR Trends and Metrics, 3rd Edition: The Canadian Context for Strategic Workforce Planning”.  There were a number of significant comments about Employee Retention, Skills Shortages, and Immigration.  This short narrative focuses on the impact of the Aging Workforce as it relates to Organizational Leadership.

The study found that in the next 3-5 years, the top Human Capital challenge in Canada will be the Aging Workforce, with 41% of respondents listing this as their first concern.

In fact, the study found that within the next 12 months 24.9% of all Senior Executives will be eligible to retire (32.0% in the Public Sector and 20.4% in the Private Sector).  Significantly, due to the Baby Boomer phenomenon, there is a “risk of losing a large percentage of the leadership cohort at the same time”.  The impact on retirement savings due to the softness of the economy in the past few years has delayed this retirement move; however, the study found that “this cohort is (now) beginning to exit the workforce in growing numbers.”

As a result, the study found that three of the top 5 HR priorities and activities in the next 3-5 years will be:

  • Succession Management
  • Management/Leadership Development
  • Knowledge Transfer

While on the surface this should come as no surprise (in 2010 the Deputy Chief Economist and Executive Director for Forecasting and Analysis at the Conference Board of Canada Pedro Antunes wrote the single most important factor shaping the labour market over the next two decades will be the retirement of the baby boomer cohort”), what is really surprising is how ill-prepared public and private sector organizations are to deal with this fact.

Questions you should be asking yourself immediately (if you have not already done so) include:

  • When was the last time we updated the Job Descriptions of our Senior Executives (what they ACTUALLY do)?
  • Who are their major contacts within and outside of our organization (internal management, clients, competitors, suppliers, Centres of Influence, mentors, peers, lobbyists, trade associations, etc.)?
  • How can this legacy information be captured for the successor, when the incumbent walks out the door?
  • What different kind of individual and skills will be needed to lead us into the future?
  • Where will we find this kind of individual?
  • How will we evaluate him/her in the Selection Process?
  • What kind of on-boarding/training/development will be needed?

Clearly, we are heading into uncharted territory, but remember “a bend in the road is not the end of the road, unless you fail to make the turn.”

Having trouble answering these questions?  I invite you to reply to this email to set up your complimentary consultation.  I promise that you will leave our call together with 2 or 3 actionable ideas to reduce your exposure to planned or unplanned departures of “mission critical” employees.

Bruce McAlpine is President of Fulcrum Search Science Inc., a Toronto-based Executive Search Firm, and a Board member of the Association of Canadian Search, Employment & Staffing Services (ACSESS). To learn more, please contact him at 416.847.4989, or bruce.mcalpine@fulcrumsearchscience.com.

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