Question: how can PR help plug the succession gap?

24/05/2024 15:53:13

Answer: with a communications strategy that supports talent recruitment and talent retention.

The inaugural Big Manufacturing Growth Report 2024, published by manufacturing membership organisation Made in Group, highlights some of the key challenges facing the sector when it comes to succession planning: an ageing  workforce, the current business landscape, demographic shifts and global complexities.

The report shows that whilst a third of businesses have succession planning practices in place, the majority - 37% - believe their succession planning is “adequate but improvable.”
Alongside the obvious leadership continuity issues that a lack of strategic succession planning creates, there are the added challenges of talent recruitment and talent retention.

As the report states,

“Succession planning isn’t just about filling leadership roles, but also about developing and retaining top talent at all levels of the organisation. It is about creating a pipeline of skilled workers ready to step into key roles.

“This is particularly pertinent for privately owned enterprises where leadership transitions can significantly impact the company’s trajectory. A lack of succession planning may hinder attracting and retaining senior talent, as current and prospective employees may be hesitant to join or remain at an organisation with uncertain leadership structures.”
Mind the gap

The importance of talent recruitment in succession planning

It’s never too soon to start succession planning. Bringing in the right people to pick up the baton and take your business into its next phase is key to its continued success and, as we all know, finding the right people can take time. 

People are placing more importance than ever on company culture, values, employee benefits, working policies, inclusion initiatives, the working environment and ESG (and you can learn more about sustainable PR and how it can help your business here) when they’re looking for a new job. One of the biggest pulls to a new role is being able to see a clear career path and real opportunities to progress. For businesses looking to attract their future leaders, this presents a huge opportunity – one that too many SMEs are missing. 
And this is where PR comes into your talent recruitment strategy. Telling the story of your business, bringing roles to life, and communicating those career progression opportunities to potential candidates has a huge part to play. 

It’s not about posting job vacancies on your website and socials and hoping for the best. And it’s not about handing everything over to a recruiter and abdicating responsibility for attracting the talent you need to fulfil your business ambitions. You and your team are the best ambassadors for your company, and you have a role to play in shaping and sharing its narrative.

It’s about painting a picture of what it’s like to work in your organisation to prospective recruits. It’s talking about your company culture and values and showing them in action to the outside world. It’s giving people a glimpse behind the scenes of the business so they can get a sense of what it would be like to work there. And it’s about sharing career success stories so that people can see others just like them succeeding and growing in their roles; helping them see that there are opportunities for them to do the same by joining your team. 

Taking this strategic approach to communication will help you attract the best people into your business; the people who will help you make sure your company is fit for the future.

Using PR to support talent retention 

Yes, bringing new and relevant skills into your organisation is an important part of succession planning. But equally important is facilitating the transfer of knowledge and experience within your existing workforce to create a business that’s sustainable in the long term. So, when you’ve got the right people in your business, how do you make sure they stay?

The Great Resignation may be over, but many business owners are still struggling to keep the best talent within their organisations. Those who are succeeding are the ones who have recognised and harnessed the power of employee experience and engagement. And a key pillar of successful employee engagement is, you guessed it, communication. 

We’ve talked about telling your story externally to support talent recruitment, but what about your existing team? Do they know about the career progression opportunities available to them? Do they feel part of a successful business that’s going places? Are they engaged in helping the business get to those places? Making sure you’re communicating consistently with your team will help keep them with you. 
Talent retention
An internal communications strategy that keeps people informed is a key part of talent retention. It’s easy to start feeling disconnected and isolated when you’re not clear on the wider business plan and purpose, you don’t know where you fit into that plan, and you’re unsure how well the business is performing against it. This disengagement is what leads many people to leave a business. And in times of uncertainty and change – which currently are a perpetual part of life - this becomes even more important.

Internal communication is underrated as a tool for supporting business performance. In fact, when used well, it can help you build and nurture company culture and support employee engagement, adding significant weight to your talent retention and succession planning strategies.
So, as you start to think about succession planning in your business, make time to plan strategic communication to support it. An effective PR strategy will strengthen your succession plan and help give it every chance of success. 

We love supporting businesses with succession planning, talent recruitment and talent retention. Read about our work with JMG Group, Gough & Kelly and Secerna, and give us a call to explore how we can help you.

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