The skills needed to be a director is an ever-changing list and in an environment of legislation changes, added media scrutiny and increased requirements to the scope of work required of a director – not matter the industry, it’s getting trickier for Boards to keep them. Added to this is the stressor of increasing exhaustion and burnout levels throughout every staffing level of the organisation and the struggle to replace staff who leave. A recent Deloitte survey suggests that in their survey of 2,100 employees and C-level executives across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia “nearly 70% of the C-suite are seriously considering quitting for a job that better supports their well-being.” Looking beyond the C-suit, with the great resignation now at our shores, the Bureau of Statistics confirms that there has been an increase in the proportion of workers switching jobs – from a low of 7.5% in 2021 to 9.5% as at February 2022. Compounding this issue is a talent shortage, which is making it harder, taking longer and more expensive to replace the staff that leave.

Anecdotally, we’re hearing about this a lot from Boards, CEO’s and Executives who are having long serving staff, executive and Board members leaving and taking their wealth of sector and organisation specific knowledge with them. And especially in the smaller communities where they’ve always had a hard time recruiting for Directors it has become that much harder with the added external pressures.

Fi Mercer, GovernWith’s CEO and Founder, has spoken a lot about this over the last 12-months in the Aged Care sector, from the 2021 and 2022 Govern with Care conference, 2021 LASA Aged Services Innovation: Owning the Future Now, however it’s an issue for all Directors and not just those in Aged Care. We believe that it is such as important element that Directors must be aware of an act upon before it’s too late.

Whilst this situation could be framed negatively, we think that it’s the perfect time to shake up succession planning and director appointments to give both a fresh perspective. With only 46% of Boards in 2021 feeling that they address all levels of succession planning there is room for improvement for all Boards.

Apart from a focus on the future skills required for successful Boards there are other aspects to consider for thinking outside the box in terms of achieving director appointments. As companies are getting more creative and flexible in order to attract and retain staff members, Boards should think about doing the same for Board positions where they can. For example, there is an increase in the number of virtual director positions available where Directors who aren’t living in the community but have the skills needed by the Board are able to virtually be a part of the meetings and only travel to in person meetings on occasion. Another example is Boards who are recruiting younger professionals who are interested in becoming part of the Board but need to be upskilled in a particular area. These young professionals are then put onto sub-committees to learn and be nurtured by the more experienced Directors to gain the skills they need. This helps ensure future succession for the Board and gives opportunity to those who might not normally get it.

Along the same lines, more Boards are offering development opportunities for their directors as well. By organising for their directors to participate in a skills matrix to identify relevant and targeted training opportunities to upskill themselves Boards better able to attract professionals who are still growing their careers rather than at the end of it.

Another opportunity that boards should consider is growing their relationships with other boards in the community. These affiliations, especially in areas like health and aged care where there is a real focus on this notion of partnerships, can help to share the load of governance.

A final question for you to think about heading into the second half of the year – Is your Board looking at the skills, qualifications, experience and behavioural attributes of everyone around the table to ensure that should something happen you’d know the real breadth of skills that were being lost?

If you want to learn the skills, qualifications, experience and behavioural attributes of your board or for yourself as an individual, register to attend one of our demonstration sessions here