You’re not the only one who’s getting older. We live in a country with a median age that’s some 10 years older than it was just 40 years ago. The “Baby Boomer” generation is reaching retirement age in droves. According to Gallup, only one-third of Baby Boomers, those born from 1946-1964, remain in the workforce today. The importance of this trend cannot be ignored as a predictor of vast changes in the workforce today, in the near and distant future. (Could this trend be one of the reasons certain European countries are welcoming refugees?)

Beyond the obvious trend of the US workforce getting younger, and therefore less experienced, it’s clear that it is also shrinking. The labor force participation rate is now less than 63 %, the lowest rate in 40 years, according to In some industries, nursing for example, more than 50% of OR nurses are over the age of fifty and headed for retirement – hopefully their memories are better than mine!

Creating a Succession Strategy

For business executives, the ramifications of this are far-reaching. You will struggle to replace the most valuable team members that you’ve placed in leadership roles throughout your organization. Leaders need experience yet, as your active workforce grows younger and your most experienced people retire, finding personnel with the knowledge and skill required to lead will become increasingly difficult – if it has not already.

An effective response requires a comprehensive succession strategy; the identification and development of team members who can seamlessly fill recently or soon-to-be empty leadership roles. Such a strategy should at least include:

  • Increased Competency – The overall goal of your succession strategy will be to improve the confidence of your workforce by making them more capable and productive, as team members and as leaders.
  • Focused Development – This will enable you to boost capacity, not just of your organization, but of individual team members as well.
  • Building Capability – Your organization will be able to support increases in quality, service, and efficiency, leading to an increase in ROI.

Developing future leaders to succeed the staff you will be losing can be accomplished with little to no loss of competency or effectiveness if you plan ahead and take steps before you reach a crisis point. This strategy will enable you to determine the critical thinking skills and elevated competencies each staff member will need to reach the next level of leadership skills required for seamless succession.

If you hope to avoid a crisis or at least a drop in performance and competitiveness due to the inevitable loss of your most experienced and competent staff members, the time to implement your succession strategy is now.

How rapidly will your organization lose valuable, experienced staff to retirement? What kind of strategy have you put in place to help you cope with the shifting dynamics of your workforce?