For many baby-boomers, the dreams of Florida sunshine and days spent with grandchildren will soon become a reality. Meanwhile, employers can soon expect to be faced with staff shortages and the loss of invaluable sources of information on company and clients. Not exactly a walk on the beach!
Fortunately there are actions that companies can take today to better plan for the transition of retiring employees which will minimize the impact on their business.
7 tips to ensure a smooth transition:
1. Don’t assume that because an employee is nearing retirement age that they will soon be retiring.
Legally they can continue working as long as they like, or as long as they are capable of fulfilling their duties. Sit down with the employee and explain that you would like to have a general idea of their five to ten year career plan in order to plan for the future. While they are in no way obligated to provide you with this information or an end date, most will give you the courtesy of letting you in on their plans.
2. If possible, be flexible with the employee’s exit plan.
Many future retirees are still interested in working but with the long term goal of slowly phasing out. Offering part-time work to soon-to-be retirees allows them to provide training with the benefit of not paying two full-time employees to do one job.
3. Prepare a list of employees who are planning to retire over the next five years.
For each upcoming vacancy, identify current employees who would be well-suited to take over the position. For positions where no prospective internal candidates are identified, recruitment efforts can be planned.
4. Communicate your plans to the employees whom you plan to promote or move into these positions.
It is very motivating for these employees to know where they fit in the company’s future plans. If ever an employee expresses that they are not interested in the proposed position, you will know in advance and be able to adjust accordingly.
5. Estimate the training period for each position.
Be careful not to underestimate the training time needed, unless you are willing to mitigate your expectations – even the brightest employee cannot perform as well after two weeks as someone who has been holding the position for several years. There are often subtleties, relationships and exceptional situations that the employee can only learn through experience.
6. Not everyone is great at transferring knowledge.
If possible, be selective of who will be training the new recruit. You can also provide your retiring employees with “train the trainer” training in order to help them refine their skills. Start the training early, for example, by having the employee replace the future retiree during his or her absences. This also provides a benefit to the future retiree as they will not be greeted by a huge mess when they return from vacation!
7. Set-up a mentoring program for key positions.
This should go beyond showing an employee where files are kept or how to use a computer program. Future retirees will take an employee under their wing to share their knowledge and experience, introduce them to business contacts, bring them along to client meetings and explain any challenges they had to overcome in order to help with the transitioning process.
Fall 2012 (download the PDF)