Finding a New Horizon in the Retention of Older Workers
In my view, there are two colliding trends in today’s business world that we need to start paying attention to. First, we know that the pool of younger, highly qualified and experienced candidates for succession to senior leadership positions is continuing to shrink. And secondly, we know that the average median age for retirement is now 63.3 years. Thus, with the number of individuals’ right on this age cusp, businesses are at risk of losing a lot of intellectual capital. We need do to something to keep these experienced senior professionals just a little bit longer while at the same time, developing younger professionals.
Many organizations are tackling the challenge of keeping older workers through adjusting their human resource policies to offer perks such as flexible work hours. However, it is my contention that business leaders must start talking about the concept of retirement far before the situation arises. And that’s because many employees themselves leave retirement planning to the last minute and thus we are surprised when someone arrives at work and gives one month retirement notice. This leaves us with no time to develop others.
As a result, I believe one of the goals leaders must adopt is to focus on retention of older, mature workers equally as much as they focus on attracting new candidates. In other words, abandoning one’s career and jumping 100% into retirement is slowly being abandoned, it is important to start working with employees 5-10 years ahead of any potential retirement. This provides significant benefit to both employees and employers.
From the employees’ perspective, this approach helps individuals to not only understand and plan for the financial aspects of retirement but also plan for the emotional side of retirement planning.
The most effective training program I’ve encountered in the area of retention of older, mature workers is called, “New Horizons” offered through Career Partners International of which Legacy Bowes Group is a partner. This program is designed to empower individuals to be the best that they can be as they reach their mature years and assists them to take charge of their personal growth. The goal of the New Horizons program is to help employees achieve their greatest possible fulfillment as they move towards retirement even when it is ten or more years away.
The program is facilitated and begins with a 99-item assessment instrument that covers 20 separate lifestyle and attitudinal factors. The assessment provides a clear, well-ordered and scaled overview of how each participant compares to others in similar life circumstances with respect to their personal growth toward retirement. In-depth program materials then guide participants through the following key areas:
- Career and work – discovering ideal work, work benefits and work options
- Health and wellness – examining personal health practices, vitality, and wellness attitudes
- Finances and insurance – testing knowledge of finances, financial planning, and financial confidence
- Family and relationships – considering flexibility options, the need to provide caregiving for aging parents or adult children, and being active grandparents
- Leisure and social – uncovering preferences for leisure, residence, travel, and hobbies
- Personal development – exploring life meaning and opportunities for education and volunteering
- Legal and legacy – ensuring that wills, estates, trusts, power-of-attorney, healthcare administration and other documents are in place to protect you and your family
It is my experience that most of us take ourselves for granted in such a way that we are not really conscious of what we are good at, what motivates us and what we like to do; we just simply do it! This program provides an opportunity to help mature individuals to evaluate their skills, values, interests, strengths, and preferences and to develop a deeper self-awareness of their goals and aspirations. Individuals examine and assess their current behaviors in context of their impact on future happiness and wellbeing. They then learn to objectively plan for all elements of life options and to develop a plan for the achievement of their new goals.
So, what is the benefit from an employer’s perspective? First of all, you will see employees at all levels of your organization gain a strong sense of self confidence in their skills, they will know what motivates them and what they want to do within your organization. You may often identify employees skills you didn’t know existed which then allows you to transfer these individuals to other areas of your organization. Employees will feel valued and will respect your investment in them.
And finally, you will get a better idea of the scope of potential employee retirement plans long before an employee’s dream come to fruition. This knowledge alone will help you to plan for the development of your younger team members and to plan effectively for succession within your company.