By Tim Drake, Head of Talent Management, Hudson UK

Times are changing in Britain’s workplace. Over the next three years, 25-30% of the country’s workforce will retire as Baby Boomers hand over the reins to Generation X. This paves the way for a new style of leadership and workplace practice, evidenced in new research that documents the shifting dynamics in our multi-generation workplaces. With such change just around the corner, succession planning should be top of the list for business leaders looking ahead to future success.

Our R&D lab recently conducted a large scale research project, aiming to shed light on the generation gap in today’s workforce, and provide insight into the key skills and attributes of different age groups. The findings resulting report, ‘The Great Generational Shift, have implications for businesses across the country.

‘Traditional’ leadership skills such as decisiveness, persuasion and strategic thinking, displayed by Baby Boomers, those aged 50 and over, are soon to be replaced by the autonomous, diplomatic and abstract-thinking ways of Generation X, aged between 35 and 49. Hot on their heels are the 20-somethings of Generation Y — passionate, ambitious and altruistic.

With this in mind, it’s important that you equip yourself — and your business — with strategies to deal with such imminent change, consolidating your workforce and preparing for the future ahead.

So, how can we adapt and thrive in this new world of work? Succession planning plays a key role. It’s vital that you start to map out your workforce, pinpointing the leaders of tomorrow and engaging with talent.

As with most things, change creates opportunity. This unparalleled restructure, where Baby Boomers make way for Generation X and Y, presents organisations with a chance to grow and cultivate an environment prepared for future pressures.

Here are Hudson’s top tips for fostering an adaptable and flexible workforce, capable of withstanding the challenges of tomorrow — and excelling.

Map your workforce
Workforce mapping will enable your organisation to understand the level and type of talent required to deliver future success.

This planning method will also help forecast and build a picture of who is likely to be part of the team in years to come and what position they will be capable of filling. It gives focus for future recruitment and builds a valuable profile of staff across the workplace, identifying ‘gaps’, where specialist recruitment or training may be needed.

Mapping should be linked with your growth strategy and seek to answer a set of questions important to future operation. Questions such as:
• Who will I need in five years’ time? What skills, roles, numbers?
• Do I know who is going to be here then?
• Do I know which positions I am going to be able to fill?
• Can I identify the leaders of tomorrow?
• Do I have the right skills in my business now?
• THEN, what’s the shortfall?

Hire from the inside
Internal mobility should also be factored in when thinking about succession planning. Hiring from within your own company will reduce the time and recruitment costs associated with making external appointments, and can act as a fantastic motivator to ambitious employees already part of your team.

Generation Y wants to work for a company that provides real progression opportunities, and where career paths can be clearly mapped out. As revealed by our report, those in this generation are almost a third more ambitious than the 60-somethings of the Baby Boomer group. Lack of career advancement opportunities is one of the main reasons that high-potential employees leave a business.

Engage your talent
In order to engage effectively with talented employees, you need to ensure that a specific set of working conditions are in place. Does your organisation offer an environment where the mission is clear, the culture positive and where employees are encouraged to develop their potential?

Talent management is an integral part of succession planning. Once you’ve mapped out your workforce and identified future leaders, it’s important to put frameworks in place that will enable you to engage and manage those individuals effectively, fuelling their enthusiasm and building their commitment. The greatest asset to any organisation is its people - significant investment should be made to keep them aligned with and passionate about company goals.

The future
We all know that businesses must be adaptable and flexible to be successful. So must your leaders. What’s vital, now, is equipping your up and coming talent with the right skills to take up the challenge of leadership. Do you know who your future leaders are, what they need, how engaged they are with your business? A thriving business is reliant on its people. Only by answering these questions today can you be prepared for success tomorrow.