Is Replacing Retirees Your System’s Biggest Workforce Challenge?

The changeover in workforce in the water and wastewater sector is a growing challenge that will eventually impact almost every system. While there are a number of ways that systems engage and recruit new workers, it’s also important to look at how the system itself is organized to improve recruitment and retention.

As the next wave of generational retirements comes upon us, it is noteworthy that many soon to be retirees came up through the ranks and spent their entire careers at one system. In many cases the system’s workflow was defined by these workers’ preferences and capabilities.

Systems operated on the exceptional skills of experienced employees with decades of institutional knowledge. As these employees retire, the people and skills gap become increasingly apparent. While we should continue to look for new employees with exceptional skills, there is also an opportunity for systems to review what they’re trying to accomplish and how they operate. Specific items to consider with these transitions may include:

  1. Is there a bottleneck position where too many responsibilities run through a single person?
  2. Are there better ways to assign job functions to individual employees that can help increase efficiencies?
  3. What important, but non-essential, tasks aren’t getting done throughout the system?
  4. Are employees getting the right feedback and opportunities for continued growth and skills development?

While there is almost an endless number of items to review based on your system’s unique circumstances, the questions listed above provide a starting point to consider overall organizational structure. Answering the questions now can help with both transitions – the retirement of long-term employees and recruitment of their replacements. After all, retirement success has many lenses, one of which is to prepare for a successful transition upon departure.

If you would like additional information on this topic, contact Ryan Graf, AE2S Nexus Senior Consultant.