Employee retention top challenge for organizations: Conference Board

Many organizations focusing on succession planning and 'mission critical' positions
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 06/17/2010

Canadian organizations are at an increased risk of losing employees as more opportunities become available in an improving economy. As such, organizations are focusing more on retention, development and succession planning, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

“The recession gave employers only a brief reprieve from looming workforce shortages and an ongoing competition for talent. A growing economy and an aging workforce mean that it is just a matter of time before pressure in labour markets begins to build again,” said Ruth Wright, associate director of leadership and human resources research at the Conference Board.

The board's second Human Resources Trends and Metrics, which surveyed 167 organizations, found nearly one-half of the collective workforce is over the age of 45.

Retaining employees and building leadership capacity are among the top challenges facing organizations, along with attracting and recruiting employees. As such, management and leadership development and strategic workforce planning are seen as priorities both in the short term and over the next three to five years.

“The demand for skilled people never went away during the downturn, and concerns about skills and talent shortages are evident even at the highest level of organizations. Management and leadership development, and succession planning, are high priorities for HR leaders. Many organizations — particularly in the private sector — are identifying key leadership positions for the purpose of succession planning,” said Wright.

Succession management, as well as knowledge transfer and management, are rising as priorities — surpassing even employee engagement in importance. The priority placed on knowledge transfer and management, in particular, has increased noticeably since the first trends and metrics survey conducted in 2005.

Indicators of leadership bench strength for top executives have remained constant (at about one-half a successor for every senior leadership position) compared to the previous trends and metrics survey.

However, succession pools for second-level executives and senior managers (which were even lower in the previous survey than those of top executives) have increased since 2005. More organizations are identifying “mission-critical” positions and are grooming high-potential employees for these roles than they were in the 2005 findings.

For more coverage of the Conference Board's Human Resources Trends and Metrics, check out the June 14 issue of Canadian HR Reporter.

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