Are you prepared for the possibility of your company’s senior safety supervisor resigning from their position? According to Safety+Health magazine, in 2017, 75 percent of subscribers said their employers didn’t have a succession plan for their organization’s safety and health function. To many, this number may seem frighteningly high, yet it’s not unusual. As businesses have grown more safety conscious over the years, the overall number of annual incidents has declined, leading to the downsizing of many safety departments. Companies allocate employee resources to areas that need the most attention, and safety doesn’t warrant the resources it once did.
A lack of employees in a department does open the door for problems. If a supervisor on your safety team resigns, retires or is let go by the company, there is a critical safety position left open. If your business does not have a pre-planned succession strategy, hiring and training a new employee for the role can take months. During the hiring process, workers will have added responsibilities, which can create strain in a department. A recommended business strategy is to anticipate turnover, and have a succession plan in place that will ease the burden on the remaining workers while the higher-level position is filled.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), planning and implementing a succession program can take 12–36 months. The company will need to identify key job skills, knowledge of the job, social relationships and best organizational practices of all the managers in a department and creates a system that passes those skills from managers to workers.
How do you get started with succession planning? There are a number of valuable resources available to help you get started, including one by John Welsh, an executive coach and contributor to Forbes Magazine, called 7 Steps to Successful Succession Planning. While succession planning may seem like a lot of work, it will help you avoid the costly and time-consuming process of hiring a new worker for a new position. At the end of the day, worker safety must remain a top priority for businesses, and if a key position remains open, workplace safety could be at risk.