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Succession planning and management guide

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The business case

Departures and retirements

Based on recent departure trends, between 20 and 25 per cent of indeterminate public servants are forecast to leave over the next five years ( See endnote 2). In 2004-05, two thirds of all departures were through retirement. Because the retirements will occur over a period of time, this is a manageable issue. However, it requires strategic planning. Effective succession planning ensures that the federal government will have a ready supply of qualified candidates for leadership roles and for other key areas when positions become vacant.

Competition for skilled employees

In a recent survey, over two thirds of public sector managers reported current or expected skills shortages, and improving succession planning was identified as the top action to address skills requirements ( See endnote 3). Succession planning helps to retain skilled talent by ensuring that employees are provided with challenging developmental assignments that support their career objectives and meet organizational objectives.

Increasing diversity of the workforce

Immigration was the source of 70 per cent of recent labour force growth, and projections are that it will be 100 per cent by 2011, resulting in higher workforce availability of visible minorities ( See endnote 4). Without a systematic succession planning process, job incumbents tend to identify and groom successors who are remarkably similar to themselves in appearance, background, and values ( See endnote 5). Effective succession planning provides organizations with an opportunity to meet employment equity goals and thereby ensure that the public service reflects the Canadian population.

Need to retain corporate knowledge

There are considerable costs to organizations when employees leave, not only in terms of loss of skills but also of loss of corporate knowledge. Effective succession planning ensures that strategies are in place for knowledge transfer.

Career development leads to higher levels of employee engagement

Employees whose careers are being developed are more likely to report higher levels of engagement. In other words, they are more likely to be committed to the organization, are more likely to take pride in their work, and are more likely to work hard at what they do. ( See endnote 6)

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