A recent Plan Advisor article called Employers Worried Over Retirement Surge got me thinking.
The article says that:
A survey of human resource executives by Challenger finds that 20% of companies say that as many as 50% of their workers are age 55 and older. About 30% of companies report that workers 55 and older accounted for 11% to 20% of their workforce. Twelve percent of respondents say their companies do not track the portion of their workforce nearing retirement age.
It also says that:
The biggest concern by employers, according to survey results, is not the number of workers retiring, but the skills they take with them. Nearly 24% of respondents say their companies are very concerned with the coming retirement surge due to the fact that those planning to leave are in key, hard-to-fill positions. Another 30% are somewhat concerned with the potential increase in retirements.
I found it interesting that Plan Advisor note:
...35% of respondents say they are not very concerned, due primarily to the fact that they have a large employee base from which to promote and fill positions being vacated by retirees.
HR: are you worried about the retirement surge?
If the coming exodus of older, experienced workers has you worried - and even if it doesn't yet - here are eight practical actions you can take to make sure you have a solid talent pipeline and ensure your organization's future.
1. Ensure managers are having ongoing career conversations with their employees. You can do this as part of your regular performance reviews, or better yet, as part of regular one-on-one meetings between managers and employees. Make sure you get managers to document their findings and communicate them to HR, so you know where things stand and how big an impact the retirement surge and other factors might have on your organization.
2. Understand what makes older workers valuable. While we often have a general sense of the knowledge, skills and experience a valuable employee has, sometimes we miss the competencies or traits that make them truly valuable. Understand what underpins the value of your older workers so you know what to look for in their replacements.
3. Establish a mentorship program. Take advantage of the knowledge, skills and experience your older workers (and other key employees). Make sure they pass some of that along to those coming up the ranks.
4. Create talent pools for all key roles in the organization. You need to start developing employees now to fill the shoes of departing/retiring employees in key roles, but also to fill new positions. What you want is a steady stream of internal candidates preparing to fill those key roles whenever required.
5. Charge managers with building organizational bench strength. Foster employee development through both formal and informal training (job shadowing is a great way to help employees learn!). Building up the skills and experience of your entire workforce can help alleviate a brain drain.
6. Consider flexible work options. Some older workers would consider staying in the workforce longer if they had some flexibility in the form of: telecommuting, reduced work hours, occasional consulting, reduced responsibilities, more vacation/leave, etc. Hold stay interviews with your older workers to find out what you could do to retain them.
7. Build your network. If you anticipate needing to replace an older, skilled worker in the near future, and don't have any suitable internal candidates to fill their shoes, start networking now to find their successor. Tap industry associations, professional groups/associations, online groups, educational institutions - anywhere you might be able to identify candidates for the role. And nothing says you need to wait for someone to leave before hiring their successor.
8. Do workforce management with a talent management lens. Merging these two disciplines enriches both.
Whether you're worried about a retirement surge or not, it's always a good idea to build a solid talent pipeline. The simplest and most effective way is to invest in and leverage the knowledge and skills of the talent you have.
Your turn: Any other suggestions? What actions are you taking to combat or mitigate the coming retirement surge?