According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, more than half of workers over age 60 plan to continue working in some capacity after retiring from their current career. I’ve read about the “graying of the workforce” and the impending “brain drain” for years, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the topic’s sheer magnitude. And while it might be your first instinct to think that the shift is toward part-time work, the population of individuals over 65 who are pursuing full-time work has been on the rise for years. Today I’d like to share a short anecdote to help illustrate how this can play out in the real world and to teach a lesson in retaining older workers.

The Risk of Employee Retirement

When I was working as an HR Director several years back, an employee called me and told me he planned to quit. When pressed, he admitted that he liked the job and his coworkers, but he wanted to spend time with his grandchildren and pursue some hobbies.

At the time, several things were running through my head simultaneously: Continue reading

One of the topics that sometimes keeps me awake at night is knowledge. The sheer amount of knowledge in the minds of our staff members is staggering. In the past few years we’ve had a few highly competent people attempt to retire, and we’ve had a great strategy in place to reduce the impact.

reducing brain drain

How can you reduce “brain drain?”

Here’s a great piece of information that was passed on to me by John Dooney, a ninja research guru over at SHRM:

From the recent Sloan Award Survey conducted by Families and Work Institute: When the organizations were asked the number of employees at their work site that were allowed to phase into retirement by working reducing their hours over a period of time prior to retirement, the answers were as follows:

All: 42%
Most: 30%
Some: 16%
Just a few: 6%
None: 6%

How we do it

I have a great recent example. We have a staff member who has been working for our customer in some capacity for 20 years. He planned to resign outright, and we asked if he would be interested in working a 20 hour flexible schedule to continue the customer relationship. He was pleasantly surprised at the availability of the option and instantly accepted. He’s still working happily for us, we’re trying to staff up in the event he would like to leave permanently, and our customer is appreciative of the opportunity to transition to a new familiar face.

So why don’t more employers do some version of this?

I think it’s pretty simple.

I think more companies could start by offering the “stay” opportunity to those leaving for voluntary reasons. We do this as a regular practice. It’s not rocket science–you just ask. The worst they can say is “no” and walk out the door. The best option is for them to continue working for some period of time on a reduced schedule. They are invaluable and it makes for an easier transition for them and for the company.

The biggest benefit for us as the person transitions to a part time schedule is us finding out where knowledge gaps are and using them while they are on staff to help close those gaps.

What type of flexibility, if any, does your organization provide?

I wrote this piece for our company newsletter recently. I’m a big believer in educating our employees on the importance of saving for retirement, and when I heard about a new tax change this year, I just knew I had to write on it. If you are interested in using it for your own company, feel free to copy/paste this post for your people. Enjoy!

2%-What\’s it to you?

If you hang around the financial news section, then you might have heard something about a change in your withholding taxes for 2011. Why does this concern you? Well, according to CNN Money, only 16% of people are confident in their ability to save for retirement. It\’s frightening to hear news like that, but there is a positive side to this situation.

To adequately prepare their finances for the golden years, Americans need to be saving 6-10% of their salaries throughout their working lives. If you are investing in your 401(k) account to the full match (average company matches 3%), then you are barely reaching the bottom end of the spectrum.

So, what does this have to do with the change in taxes this year? Well, as a result of one of the new laws by Congress, 2% of your normal social security payroll taxes will not come out of your check this year. If you\’ve been holding off on participating in the 401(k) program, now\’s the time to make the leap! If you already contribute, this is a great way to bump up your contribution to make sure you are adequately covered in your retirement savings.

Here\’s a quick example of the power of 2%. If an employee makes $50,000 per year and puts this 2% ($1000) into an average mutual fund in their 401k account for 25 years without adding anything else in that time, that would total more than $17,000. If you\’re not currently participating in the 401k program and that 2% election is eligible for matching, that could double the amount to $34,000. Not enough to retire on, but not something to sneer at, either.

If you\’re interested in learning more, joining the 401(k) program, or just figuring out what is right for you, feel free to contact your plan administrator for assistance.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Ugly? :-)