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Get insider info on SAP SuccessFactors HCM suite for core HR and payroll, time and attendance, talent management, employee experience management, and more in this SAP blog.
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The C-suite always seems to have strong succession plans to avoid any gaps in leadership, but even promotions and lateral movements can reduce productivity due to a vacancy. Therefore, succession management needs to be a focus at all levels of employment, as gaps on any team can slow down timelines and revenue. During COVID-19 succession has become even more important because organizations are working double time to rethink business models. This is not the time for losing institutional knowledge, it’s a time to solidify both succession and development strategies to ensure competitiveness when the stakes are highest.

Why Do Succession Planning Now

When succession management is done right, it allows all employees, regardless of their position, to move around the organization and broaden their expertise. This is especially helpful when it comes to boosting employee engagement. Many employees want to know that they will be able to explore interests and opportunities as they arise and succession planning provides the guard rails to enable that. Organizations benefit as well. As 62% of Software Advice survey respondents said, they would be 'significantly more engaged' at work if their company had succession planning in place.

Being short staffed during COVID is especially challenging as companies race to update business models and supply chains to meet the evolving needs of their customers. Being able to rely on consistent staffing of engaged employees is the only way to move forward with business continuity plans, reduce risk and make it out of this pandemic strong.

Succession at the individual contributor level deserves some time and attention because critical roles are found throughout an organization. Experience level doesn’t denote the importance of specialization. For example, if a junior level employee in a highly specialized line of work were to leave the company, it would cause a scramble because their role requires a very specific set of experience and education. Losing that employee would be detrimental because their skill set would leave with them and hiring a replacement might take months.

There is so much talent within an organization and being able to tap into it enables open positions to be filled with knowledgeable and capable employees faster. In order to make this a reality, companies must employ the right systems to house employee information that track who might be a good fit for which roles. And this system is not just about replacing employees that leave the company, but also about proactive internal talent flow to further engage, develop, and mobilize employees. Building a strong talent bench that can go to bat as necessary meets future business needs before they arise.

The Challenges of Succession Management

An effective succession management strategy enables better business outcomes. Getting this right helps a number of things, such as:

Fostering diversity: From gender to race to age, companies are becoming more diverse. Diversity needs to be a priority beyond just HR because it is a differentiator in the global economy. So make sure there are training programs and leadership opportunities to give employees from diverse backgrounds an opportunity to have their voices and insights heard across the business.

Creating scalability: Employee demographics are always in flux. On average, employees change companies every 5 years and around 30%+ of the workforce is entering retirement age over the next 10 years. If there isn’t a plan in place to develop internal talent and create a pool of potential successors before an employee leaves, then you are setting your organization up for failure.

Upskilling and reskilling employees: Now more than ever, business needs are changing at lightning speed.  Companies need to give employees  the training and development they need to stay on the cutting edge. This helps employees stay relevant and gives them the skills necessary to be effective contributors, which enables organizations to remain competitive in both good times and bad.

How to Get Succession Management Right

Succession management requires companies to work on several processes simultaneously, and there are a number of ways SAP SuccessFactors helps address the aforementioned challenges:

Create talent pools - Allows companies to group high performing employees for future workforce planning needs. For example, create a talent pool of high potential females and groom them for leadership roles to help drive diversity and inclusion efforts.

Use talent search - Provides a quick and easy way to search for successors across the entire organization, and scale efforts to all critical roles (not just executives).  Companies aren’t limited to successors based on their region or by referrals.

Leverage career development plans - Enables employees to record and follow through on their development goals. Integrates with SAP SuccessFactors Learning to help ensure employees develop the skills they need to prepare them for their next role.

Final Thoughts

Employees are the heart and soul of any company. They make it possible to move forward and pivot when traditional business models are no longer working. Over the past several months we’ve seen companies rely heavily on their workforce to consistently meet new restrictions and customer expectations. In a time when no day is like the one before it, being able to rely on a strong base of employees who not only have the skills, but the relationships and institutional knowledge is critical to being able to right the ship in a time of crisis.

Learn more about how SAP SuccessFactors Succession and Development can help you through these uncertain times.