Don't Let Your Intellectual Capital Walk Out Without a Succession Plan

Bob helped build the business. Margie kept it running. Both Bob and Margie will reach retirement age soon. Who is going to replace these irreplaceable people? Will it be someone from inside your company? Do you even have the next generation in place and ready to step up?

Companies all over the country are trying to prepare for key people leaving their teams and taking all their knowledge and experience with them. The Baby Boomer generation is estimated at 82 million by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As they reach retirement age they are creating a potential mass exodus of senior workers. There simply aren’t as many Generation X workers to step in and fill that void.

But what if there was a win-win solution that encouraged a smooth transition? What if you could get some Boomers to delay retirement in order to mentor your up-and-coming leaders? The most forward-thinking companies are taking these steps right now.

Naturally some Baby Boomers will be eager to hang up their suits and grab their golf clubs. But overall, the Boomer generation is known as the most dedicated, hard-working generation in history. In a lot of cases, it is going to be hard for some to pull away from going in to work every day. They get their identity from their job. Without a job, who are they? Also, there are proven financial, physical and emotional benefits to continuing to work, even on a part-time basis. Many retirees have gone in to consulting simply to contribute and share their decades of experience.

You may find many of your senior leaders are open to the idea. But as an employer you can’t take their continued efforts for granted. You are going to need to woo them stick around. Marketing to them will be different. You will need to show them how important they can be to mentoring younger members of the team.

The best HR practices encourage senior workers to remain involved, while at the same time, urge younger team members to ask questions, work together and fully absorb all the available wisdom while they can.

One thing that you will really need to embrace is workplace flexibility. While you are matching up a couple of very hard-working generations, the new generations responds well to flexibility. That may include flexible work hours or working remotely. Trust them that they will get the work done. If all goes as planned, you get to keep all of that rich experience, avoid a skill gap and invest in the people that will run your business well in the future.

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