When Top Talent Retires: Are You Ready?

You may not want to think about losing your most valued employees, but they can’t stay with your organization forever. Retirement is inevitable for everyone — and with the baby boomer generation now retiring at a rate of around 10,000 every day, companies throughout the country need to be ready for the challenge of replacing them.

Replacing top talent when they retire is not usually a simple matter. There are several considerations that need to be addressed ahead of time, particularly in smaller companies with tight-knit teams. Here’s how you can prepare for losing senior employees to retirement and come out ahead of the game.

Plan far in advance — when you can

The best strategy for replacing top talent is to have a long-range plan in place. Keep the lines of communication open with employees who may be approaching retirement in the near future, and ask them for a time frame of when they plan to retire. This way, you’ll know when to put your replacement plans in motion.

However, it’s not always possible to have advanced notice. Employees may retire early for any number of reasons, such as increased pressure at work, a spouse retiring earlier than expected, or a high-performing stock market that increases the value of retirement funds. Make sure you have an emergency plan available for these circumstances.

Hiring a replacement: Internal vs. external

One of the most important decisions about replacing an employee who’s retiring is whether to hire internally or externally. In many cases, internal promotion is the best choice—but there are precautions to consider. You should have a good understanding of what your current team expects, and whether any of your employees are anticipating a promotion when a senior member retires. If the expectations don’t match your intentions, you’ll need to discuss your replacement plans with the rest of your employees, or risk losing someone else over the disappointment of not getting promoted.

External hiring can be a trickier proposition, but it can be accomplished under the right circumstances and for the right reasons. The best strategy for hiring an external replacement is to have the new hire spend time on the job before the employee they’re replacing retires, so your employees can adjust to the transition.

Training replacement employees

It’s crucial to have some form of training program in place before your top talent retires, so you can ensure that your replacement is up to speed. For internal hires, make arrangements that allow the employee being promoted to work with the retiring employee for the purpose of knowledge transfer. The employee being promoted may also be training a replacement during this time, so have a plan to ease as much of the burden as possible for all employees involved.

If there isn’t enough time for the retiring employee to train a replacement, ask them to leave detailed notes or video instruction behind for their replacement, outlining the aspects of the position that aren’t covered otherwise.

Losing top talent is inevitable, but you don’t have to let employee retirement take you by surprise. Have a well-developed plan in place to handle employee transitions, and your company will be able to weather retirement without a hitch. To learn more about how we can help you find top behavioral health talent, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at info@psychpros.com.

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