Preparing the Environmental Workforce for the Future
In response to ECO Canada user demand, the first blog in this series discussed why Succession Planning is becoming increasingly important in the eyes of environmental employers. The important elements to consider when planning for the future were also outlined.
In the second part to this blog, we will discuss the various challenges associated with Succession Planning and end off by sharing a few resources available to help you as prepare your organization and employees for the years ahead.
Challenges to Effective Succession Planning
A more challenging element in succession planning is anticipating the future needs of the organization and recruiting new employees or selecting existing employees that have the skills and desires required to meet these projected needs. It is likely that some of the positions needed to be filled in the future, do not even exist today. External factors such as changes in technology, legislation and economic conditions will play a central role in guiding the future direction of many organizations. While there is no one size fits all solution to this, organizations can begin by identifying individuals that are open to change, motivated to succeed, and have values that align with the overall strategic direction of the organization.
Another problem presents itself when organizations fail to understand that successful succession planning is an ongoing process. It cannot be completed in a set period of time and instead, requires a continuous commitment to training, professional development and to creating career paths for employees which will facilitate the organization's ability to recruit and retain top-performing employees. “Even the best laid plans can be waylaid if there is not a strong organizational commitment to providing meaningful mentorship and knowledge-transfer opportunities to up-and-coming employees, “cautions Michael Kerford.
This commitment is necessary from not only HR personnel but from line managers and executive level management. Management should be responsible for identifying key employees and future leaders within the organization and guiding them according to their strengths. While this may sound simple, it is easy for organizations and management to get caught up in the challenges of day-to-day business and neglect more proactive planning and initiatives. “In a consulting environment this can often be more difficult, with thin profit margins and the time demands placed on senior staff, although long-term success demands that these measures are taken,” says Michael, VP of ECO Canada. Failure to properly plan for the future increases the odds of not having the talent needed to grow and prosper in the future.
Tools for the Future
Even with the best succession planning, as the environmental sector continues to grow and as baby boomers move into retirement, environmental organizations will require further support in their efforts to attract, develop and retain key players.
As a result of these challenges, ECO Canada, established as part of the HRSDC’s sector council initiative to support Canada’s environmental sector, offers solutions, tools and training to help employers develop their key employees and prepare them to meet the demand of the future.
Other helpful resources offered by ECO include workplace diversification programs designed to develop the skills of aboriginal workers and newcomers to Canada, the HR Centre - a library collection of the best HR resources, tools and practices tailored to the environmental sector, internship wage subsidies, Canada’s largest environmental job board and much more.
In the end, a succession plan and the utilization of available tools and resources will help environmental employers be better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead and minimize the losses associated with the retirement of key employees. This forward planning will also help increase employee engagement, support an organizations recruitment strategy by attracting top-performers and ultimately strengthen the organization’s prospect for long-term sustainability.