Using Succession Plans As An Engagement Tool

Image: Using Succession Plans As An Engagement Tool

The Role Succession Planning Plays in Employee Engagement

Succession planning is a process that is often discussed at senior levels though, in our experience, rarely well executed. To build an effective succession plan you must:

  • Select the right approach for your business (top down, talent pools, bottom up etc)
  • Analyze your current business state
  • Analyze your future business state
  • Execute and evaluate your plan

In a recent study* by Software Advice, a company that evaluates HR software, on the role that succession planning plays in increasing employee engagement, five key findings emerged:

  1. Sixty-two percent of employees surveyed say they would be “significantly more engaged” at work if their company had a succession plan.
  1. Ninety-four percent of employers surveyed report that having a succession plan positively impacts their employees’ engagement levels.
  1. Over 90 percent of younger workers (age 18 to 34) say that working at a company with a clear succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement.
  1. Seventy-nine percent of employers surveyed note they have succession plans in place for mid-level manager positions.
  1. Eighty-one percent of employers report using some form of software to organize the process of succession planning.

Demonstrating Commitment to Employees

In a session this week with a client, a Gen Y employee shared why he felt so committed, engaged and loyal to his manager.  He indicated that he could trust his manager because she had consistently demonstrated a commitment to support him by “having his back” and being invested in building his skills and helping his grow. Part of the succession planning process is nurturing talent in your business so that high performing employees can progress within your organization. By collaboratively identify what skills employees need to develop and what experience they must be prepared for, you will be establishing a talent pipeline that you can tap into.

Thus, career development is a crucial component of succession planning. Previous Software Advice research shows that over half of younger workers (age 18 to 34) say access to professional development training would positively affect their decision to remain at a company. The same results were true for succession planning. Implementation of succession plans has a positive impact on younger workers. In fact, over 90 percent of workers age 18 to 34 say their engagement level would improve if they worked for a company with a succession plan in place, compared to a company without one.


Interestingly enough, employees who are between 55-64 years old would also have a significant increase in their engagement levels by participating in a succession plan. Many experienced employees tell us during our workshops that they feel that leaders no longer value their growth and development and don’t invest in them because they are close to retirement age. In an era where mandatory retirement doesn’t exist and employees are continuously needing to improve and adapt to business changes, limiting someone’s development in your organization simply because they are more experienced in age is short-sighted.  This can also cut you off from a rich supply of experience, expertise and wisdom that is needed to coach, mentor and lead younger employees.

Building, Executing and Communicating your Succession Plan

Building, executing and communicating your succession plan is an important element of your employee brand promise and can be leveraged as a retention, engagement and development tool.  Recognizing that today’s workforce is far more mobile and transient than in the past, this will require that you build a succession plan that is adaptable and flexible to business needs,  addresses employees’ career development goals, and can set your business up for success by leveraging a diverse talent pool.

* You can view the full report here:

Giselle Kovary

As president and co-founder of n-gen People Performance Inc., Giselle is dedicated to building strategies and programs that target, motivate and engage a multigenerational workforce. She is a sought after resource to industry leaders, having worked with 18 of the top Fortune 500 companies. Over 60,000 people globally have experienced an n-gen workshop or presentation. She has devoted more than fifteen years to researching the impact that generational differences have on organizational performance. Giselle has co-authored two books: Loyalty Unplugged: How to Get, Keep & Grow All Four Generations and Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills. She has a Master’s degree in communication studies from the University of Windsor.

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