Gloria_featuredNorth Bay Business Journal


Tuesday, January 6, 2016



Is your company concerned about “brain drain” — the loss of institutional memory — as some of your top employees retire? Do you have plans on how to replace their experience, skills, and proprietary knowledge? Will your products and services continue to flourish after they leave? Companies are struggling due to the loss of large numbers of retiring “baby boomers” and their expertise. In interviews conducted with recognized national experts, it was found that many older workers are in senior staff and management positions. In five to 10 years, the numbers of those retiring will grow, and workplaces will struggle to fill gaps created by their exits. The loss of experienced staff is a challenge that all companies must address now by implementing creative solutions. The good news is if companies retain and hire older workers, they can reverse the loss trend. However, what will keep these talented and seasoned professionals interested in working for their present or new employers? Initially, there are two essential shifts that companies must make to keep these valuable people employed. First, they must adopt and promote realistic and positive perceptions of older employees. Eliminating ageism reduces misconceptions and promotes a more desirable work environment. Second, companies must train their multigenerational staff — so that they can effectively (and respectfully) work together. The combined experience of all age groups will deliver higher outcomes that feed bottom lines. At the same time, younger employees — tomorrow’s leaders — will acquire important skills that will help them thrive today and be prepared for larger roles tomorrow. Research demonstrates that older workers are more productive and resourceful than was perceived in the past. In fact, some companies are hiring seasoned individuals as a strategic maneuver to improve productivity. For instance, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reports that CVS Corporation is courting older workers and positioning their company to attract baby boomers who plan to work in retirement. A decade ago, employees 50 and older made up about 7 percent of the CVS workforce; now they make up 14 percent. “Older workers are very responsible. They care about the customers. They’re good examples to our younger employees,” said Stephen Wing, a director for the drugstore chain. As you can see, the misconceptions about older workers that pervade the workplace (for those over the age of 50) are not only unfair, but untrue. In fact, research demonstrates that older workers have high competence and productivity. In Golden Aging, a book that incorporates fact-based documentation about today’s older workers, we learn that aging does not lessen honed skills. In fact, older employees have a remarkable ability to continue improving their performance. The aging

brain has accumulated a wealth of experience; and verbal, cognitive and social skills. At the same time, this “seasoned” brain continues to absorb new information and expand the ability of an older worker to do more. Add the ingredients of a welcoming work environment and creative job challenges—and you have engaged older employees who will forgo retirement and continue to work. Scripps Health is an employer who understands the importance of holding on to their mature workers. Thirty-six percent of their employees are age 50-plus with an average tenure of 15 years. This healthcare system has 425 retirees and employs a team member that is directly responsible for overseeing retiree relations. Scripps stays connected with its retirees by communicating with them on a regular basis. Retirees are invited to organizational events, provided ongoing access to retirement-planning workshops, and formally acknowledged when they retire. Plus, this healthcare system hires former experienced employees through the Scripps Alumni Program. Retirees can also participate in employment opportunities such as temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, and telecommuting — as well as full-time and part-time work. In addition, Scripps’ approach also offers these advantages: 1. Provides health benefits for retirees age 65-plus, which include access to health care insurance and wellness programs. EAP services are available to full-time and part-time employees as well as their family members. 2. Offers employees age 50-plus a way to catch-up contributions to their 403(b) plan, and invest in lifecycle funds that automatically reallocate assets based on age or proximity to retirement. 3. Encourages mature employees to attend Scripps Financial Fairs and Retirement/Financial Planning Seminars, which provide information on topics such as asset allocation, planning for retirement, and navigating financial website tools. 4. Implements alternative work arrangements such as flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing, and telecommuting for employees working 16-plus hours per week. All employees can elect to participate in a formal phased retirement program. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis. Businesses will need to re-evaluate their strategies and incorporate new practices to retain the people who helped them achieve their current successes — those about to retire. As potential retirees transition their know-how to a younger generation of employees, they will help ensure the sustainability of the company and long-term viability of the company’s products and services.
The New Retirement: A Paradigm Shift is a recurring column by Gloria Dunn-Violin (415-259-7090,[email protected]). She is a certified retirement life coach, professional speaker and a business consultant. She has over 25 years experience in organizational behavior and development as a trainer, facilitator, consultant and coach. She also advises financial, insurance, and other businesses on how to provide their clients and employees with meaningful advice about aging and retirement.