(I wrote this article and it was originally published in the York County Coast Star on January 17, 2013)
I recently attended the retirement party of a local executive, and I suspect it will be the first of many. As I surveyed the gathering, I was struck by the “grayness” of the attendees. We are getting old.
One could reasonably argue that my perspective is a bit distorted. After all, one is likely to mirror your professional colleagues. But in this case, the census corroborates my observations. The first wave of baby boomers has reached retirement and the number of persons 55 and older has increased by 43%. One in eight Americans is 65 or older and that will increase to one in five by 2030. And the numbers are worse in Maine making our population the oldest in America.
The attendees at the party came from several organizations to honor the new retiree. One company was represented by four of their senior managers—three of whom have announced their own plans to retire within the next three years. In fact, the banter was about who’d get out first. While this made for good fun, it highlights a real business issue that we as a society face: a large number of our workers will be leaving the workforce and few companies are prepared.
A recent survey conducted by the AMA Enterprise showed that one in five companies is utterly unprepared for the sudden loss of leadership and nearly 25% have no succession plan whatsoever. Only 8% maintain comprehensive plans, never mind any kind of method to capture the knowledge of those future retirees as they walk out the door, never to return. With three senior managers leaving this company, nearly a century of experiences and knowledge will soon be lost. This could be devastating for the company.
All organizations, large and small must put plans in place now. Continue reading