ceo magazine, succession planning
Paul Nourigat

An unprecedented wave of staff turnover will rock most industries for the next 15 years. The retirement of CEOs, their direct reports and many highly skilled positions will create an unprecedented vacuum of human capital. As the economy improves and productivity improvement tapers off, robotics and sourcing strategies will hit their ceiling and human reinvestment will be required to fill the gaps. Regardless the size or ownership structure of American companies, most simply aren't ready.

Enter the wave of the millennial, Gen X'rs, Gen Y'rs and other such classifications that have followed the Baby Boomers. They've been downplayed in corporate circles for their supposed sense of entitlement, inability to hold a conversation, a "me" mentality, and other such nasty generalizations. As a result, this significant talent pool is under-appreciated, under-capitalized and under-leveraged by most. Let's face it, such characterizations have been made about every generation by their elders of the time. The younger generation went on to define the coming decades as the elders before them went into decline, often in denial. Now, that natural circle of organizational life is simply being magnified by the extreme demographic and employment shift just beginning.

You like a bottom line, right? Here it is. The best leaders today are embracing this coming wave, investing in young Americans in order to build continuity plans and demonstrate their organizations' long term capacity to their investors. How?

Balancing The Roster ... Without being bureaucratic, establishing hiring targets to achieve a balanced staff roster is a good start. Younger eyes and minds bring fresh perspective and can identify opportunities which further your business mission.

Staff mentoring ... Take the younger pups and show them how to hunt. Elders, just 5-10 years ahead of their newbies, can offer insights and context that will go well beyond the training programs and documentation otherwise fed to the newest employees.

Continuing Education & Career Planning ... Where do they want to go? Help them get there and you will earn a loyalty that pays dividends, particularly when companies return to the days of hyper-competition for solid employees.  

Job Rotation ... The reality is, most younger people do not have a clear vision for their future, so exposure to multiple roles is healthy for them. For employers, such rotation facilitates portability of people across jobs as unforeseen needs arise, thus enhancing operational continuity.

Community Investment ... Beyond the clear payback of these noted initiatives, reaching into the community is essential to our national and corporate interests, as we need to reduce dependency on government programs and the respective taxes to support them. Each company's small investment to pull up the disenfranchised, or to engage high school and college students in their business, will do a great deal for the millions who are otherwise shutout from the most rudimentary opportunities to experience work.

The demographic phenomenon will reshape industries and provide opportunities to leaders who demonstrate talent management. This level of commitment is not a "campaign" or one-year deal, but an ingredient in the complex formula for long-term organizational survival.

There's a huge vein of gold available to leaders who are willing to invest in it. Of all times, a business strategy to mine that gold is crucial.

About the Author

Paul Nourigat is a leading national consultant and senior wealth strategist for US Bank's Private Client Reserve. He has consulted with thousands of corporate leaders and families regarding their financial management, family financial dynamics, and company succession planning. Nourigat is the author of nine financial success books; his newest, No Time To Wander: the financial compass for young Americans, speaks to adults in their twenties and thirties who are dreaming and striving for financial freedom, against a backdrop of peer pressure, difficult economics, and a gap in foundational financial knowledge.



Alana Drusset's picture
It's a very wise and diplomatic decision to give Gen X and Gen Y a chance to thrive in the workplace, even when they weren't taken seriously before. They need to be given a chance, because they can offer a fresh perspective and they need to make a living too when they are getting ready to be out on their own and start a family.
Will James's picture
Yes, it will be good for younger people to be hired to prepare for the older ones retiring, but what is also important is making sure that remaining older employees and managers are ready to work with the younger new hires in a welcoming an appropriate manner. Teamwork can be severely strained if individuals are made to feel that they are not on equal footing with others. Younger new hires should be embraced by all for the talents they can contribute, and it's a manager's job to make sure everyone is prepared to cooperate.

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