With the average 21 year old not being able to claim a state pension until they reach 68, many will find themselves in employment for nearly fifty years. Whilst a motivated new employee may offer enthusiasm, it is crucial long-term staff members are used effectively to ensure the business continues to succeed. Succession planning is critical and with a growing multi-generational workforce, it is fundamental organisations get it right.

When succession planning, the complexity of the organisation and its varying business needs must be addressed. An important first step is devising a formal company-wide succession plan aimed at nurturing future talent. Identifying talented individuals and plotting where their skills fit is just part of it; a strong succession plan should contain a set criteria for progression, helping to identify when a worker is ready to be promoted. 

So, how do we motivate employees at both ends of the scale?

Mentoring programmes

A budding new starter may be eager, however training is essential as it ensures the employee is getting the support needed to progress, whilst demonstrating their role is being taken seriously. Hosting an induction with new staff members will allow HR professionals to identify aspirations and set them on the right path.

Establishing a mentoring programme is a key way to motivate both long-term employees and new starters, as the mentee is aware their progression is important and mentors will be personally fulfilled by the task. During the process, both will simultaneously develop organisational and technical skills, knowledge and understanding of the business. 

The enhanced relationship between new and long-term members of staff will also benefit the wider organisation, as mentors are well placed to feedback on progress, maintaining the accuracy of succession plans.  

For the programme to work successfully, mentors do need to be trained to ensure they are motivating their mentee, taking on board new ideas and fostering energy. Naturally, potential barriers may occur if not positioned correctly by HR Directors – for example, some more experienced individuals may see younger talent as a threat. This needs careful consideration in any succession plan.

Training programmes

Tailored and impactful training plans can have a positive impact on succession planning and business results. A Learning and Management programme delivered by TSW Training for Volvo Construction Equipment has been used to successfully identify talent and supplement Volvos’ existing succession plan, aimed at developing leaders within the company. 

Since starting the programme in 2010, Volvo Construction Equipment has seen a range of employees from its UK depots broaden their skills and showcase hidden talents. The cohort of trainees involved in the programme have a wide-ranging skill set, so tailoring modules to suit all backgrounds is crucial. Through a combination of e-learning, essay writing and presentations, learners gain new skills including finance, health & safety and project management, to fill gaps across the company, enabling them to progress to more senior levels.  As a result, almost half of those who have undertaken the course to date are celebrating promotions.

So, how do we ensure we are doing our best to retain staff?  

A high promotion rate improves staff morale, motivating employees across the organisation. Having a tailored training programme as part of a succession planning strategy improves confidence and shows people from different job roles they have the ability to take on new tasks.

Staff secondments

Training staff in other areas of the business means an employee does not have to stay in the same area of work for thirty years. Staff secondments to other parts of the company can prevent long-term employees from becoming complacent and leave space for new talent, depending on the company succession plan.

TSW Training has worked with International Greetings to deliver a ‘train-the-trainer’ programme, allowing experienced employees to train and mentor those who will later fill their positions.

Above all, it is fundamental to show employees how their development fits in with the overall growth strategy of the business.

The aforementioned steps will ensure businesses are utilising their staff in a number of ways, maximising talent and motivating employees. When succession planning, it is vital to consider a tailored and creative strategy which will enable staff to see the wider business picture, and encourage commitment throughout the workforce. A business only thrives if motivation and loyalty is evident, whether employees are aged 21 or 65.