It’s nearly impossible to turn on the news at night and not hear a report about the disappearing workforce. Millions of workers are either quitting their jobs for something else or leaving the workforce all together. No level of an organization is immune to this, and that includes key leadership positions. But what are the factors that are leading to these new leadership openings and how can an organization “bridge the gap” when these roles come open?
Why Leadership Roles Are Opening
The pandemic has created a new normal for the workforce. Millions of workers whose morning commute once included sitting in traffic now consists of commuting from their bedroom to their kitchen or home office. Morning huddles that at one time were conducted in a conference room are now being held over Zoom or Skype. The friendly smile and “good morning” from your co-worker are now covered by a mask. For some, the changes we have seen over the last couple of years are welcomed. For many who have been in the workforce for decades, it’s not something they will get used to and they see this as a time to exit the workforce.
Vaccine mandates are also contributing to people leaving their jobs. There are many people that strongly oppose vaccine mandates and would rather quit their job than be required to get the vaccine or submit to weekly testing. I recently spoke to the CEO of a hospital in the Midwest that estimated they would lose up to 20% of their workforce when a vaccine mandate is effective. That includes individuals in key leadership roles within their organization. I would venture to guess there are a lot of organizations who would find themselves in a similar position.
The pandemic gets all the headlines, but one thing that has been forgotten is the large number of Baby Boomers who are getting to retirement age. According to the Pew Research Center, close to 30 million Baby Boomers left the workforce in the third quarter of 2020. As the pandemic lingers on, that number will surely increase. Even without the pandemic, a number of these people would likely retire, but the pandemic has made many people who would maybe work a few more years choose early retirement instead. If you pull up any organization’s leadership, you will see many of these executive leadership roles are held by Baby Boomers. Pandemic or not, these roles will need to be filled.
How to Bridge the Gap
One of the ways an organization can “bridge the gap” created by these vacancies is by bringing on an interim leader. An interim leader can come in and make sure the organization doesn’t miss a step. They also give an organization time to conduct a thorough search for their next permanent leader instead of settling on a candidate just to fill the role.
When speaking with organizations, I often hear that these leadership roles do not come open very often, which is a good thing. A revolving door in the C-Suite is never good for culture or morale. That’s why it’s important to do a thorough search for a permanent leader which in many cases can take a while. A good interim leader, though, can make sure your organization is operating as “business as usual”. There are a lot of executives who solely do interim projects. This can be a unique opportunity for your organization to bring in some fresh ideas. Often, they have been on several assignments throughout their career and can implement successful strategies from their past engagements that will benefit your organization.
As we near the end of 2021, there will be several executives in leadership roles who will retire or resign at the end of the year. For some organizations they expect this. For others, these resignations and retirements will be a surprise and the organization will be left scrambling to fill these roles. Consider using an interim leader so your organization can focus on finding the right permanent leader.
Josh joined Aureus Group in May of 2021. He is currently an Account Manager for the Executive Search and Interim Leadership division of Aureus Group.