Succession planning still scarce in UK workplaces

Succession planning – which limits the effects of losing key members of staff by preparing suitable replacements for the vacancies – is still an uncommon practice in the UK workplace, according to a recent survey by Personnel Today‘s sister organisation, pay specialist IRS.

The survey of 110 employers – covering a combined workforce of just over 430,000 employees – found that only 28% of respondents had a formal succession planning process in place, while 28% used informal methods, and 44% had no provision at all.

The findings showed that succession planning processes are co-ordinated with four main HR-related tasks:

  • Management development – including graduate and high-flier programmes (68% of employers)
  • HR planning (64%)
  • Career planning for individuals (63%)
  • Management resourcing strategy (50%).

Line managers played a key role in identifying the successors, with 71% of employers taking their nominations into account.

The use of competencies as an assessment tool to identify these individuals was used by 61% of respondents. Just over one in four employers (27%) used a selection committee to identify successors. The committee is also likely to be responsible for reviewing the plan, and the effectiveness of its processes.

Most employers believed that succession planning was an effective strategy, with 72% believing they are particularly good at helping to retain key members of staff. Almost two-thirds (62%) believed they helped with talent management, while 59% said they were an effective means of achieving business success.

However, while 57% believed they represented value for money, there were doubts as to whether they help to control recruitment costs, with just 49% agreeing that it is effective in this regard. And although 55% had taken steps to include diversity measures in their succession plans, only 29% believe succession plans help to promote diversity.

Three-quarters (73%) of the respondents operate a transparent process, where they give feedback to identified successors about how they are perceived by the organisation and the kind of jobs they would be considered for in the future. And 88% gave these individuals input into their development requirements, while 85% involved them in discussions about their career aspirations.

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