Responding to a recent survey* indicating less than 40% of all Australian businesses effectively implement succession planning in their internal recruitment process, TMS Asia Pacific has reminded tourism sector employers of the pivotal role well-planned succession strategies can play in retaining and developing key staff.

TMS CEO Andrew Chan said that with the ‘war for talent’ continuing to dog the sector, many  employers needing to replace talent were finding out for the hard way that this can prove an extremely expensive exercise – from the dual perspectives of money and especially time.

The reality of it is, he said, that there has never been a more important time to ensure that employers are nurturing their top talent in order to make sure they actually retain them.

“But in the event that they do move on, those employers who have already invested in succession planning will be those who come out on top,” he said.

“There is no magic formula needed to be applied here. As is inevitably the case, things do change and employees do move on.

“The trick in creating a successful strategy is to recognise what a company needs to do in the event it does lose key employees and combine that with the aspirations and ambitions of employees further down the line.

“Canny management which has implemented succession planning strategies and has managed to recognise those employees best suited to advancement and who can immediately step into exiting colleague’s shoes are those who will, ultimately, stay ahead of the game.

“In this way, not only does management improve employee commitment and retention, it also meets the career development expectations of existing employees.

“And from the perspective of that all important bottom line, it also counters the ever increasing difficulty and cost of needing to recruit employees externally.”

*A 2011 XpertHR survey looked into succession planning practices throughout Australia, with almost half of respondents stating that they had not undertaken such strategies to help aid internal recruitment processes. While 23% of organisations polled said they use a formal process to implement succession planning, a further third of respondents said that they used an ‘informal’ approach, with the remaining participants completely refraining from implementing processes.Questioning almost 150 employers, the survey found that the main reasons behind the failure to use succession planning were: it was not a business priority; their organisation lacked the resources or HR expertise needed to run the process; staff turnover was low and the size or nature of the workforce made it irrelevant.Only a quarter of companies also stated that they thought their succession strategies were successful when considering diversity issues.