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Leaving a Legacy: How HR Can Retain Those Looking to Retire

It’s always tough to lose a good employee especially when it’s a member of your executive leadership team. However, over the next five years losing top talent will become nearly impossible to avoid as 20 percent or more of senior leaders will be eligible for retirement. So how do businesses move forward and what can be done to hang on to these valuable employees, even if it’s only for a little while longer?

Avoiding the Inevitable

The first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself; accept your employees will retire at some point. Know that their decision to leave, especially at a career peak, was not easy. Retirement is typically a decision someone has taken a considerable amount of time to ponder and once committed it is unlikely to be reversed; at least for the time being. Fortunately, most soon-to-be retirees put in their notice months in advance, giving you more time to utilize their services or persuade them to stick around for a while longer.

If one of your top employees has come to you with the decision to retire, you may consider these tips to try and persuade them to stay:

  • Many retirees enjoy their job and don’t want to leave but wouldn’t mind losing the long hours. Allow them to work part-time, remotely from home, or let them create their own hours.
  • Allow them to test the waters of retirement by offering phased-in retirement options. In this scenario the retiree cuts back one day of work each month or week until they enter full-time retirement status. A lot of the time, retirees realize that retirement isn’t all it was cracked up to be.
  • Devise short-term contracts so that they can still contribute to the business.
  • Pay for them to attend seminars on estate planning and Social Security.

If the thought of retirement is too hard for your employee to turn down, then consider the following:

  • Offer to keep them around after their official end date for training purposes.
  • Ask to keep them on a short contact list to call on as a vital resource of knowledge.
  • Ask if they would like to be utilized on a consultant basis for the business.
  • Bring them in as a guest speaker for employee luncheons and seminars.

Despite the fact that a large number of employees are nearing the age of retirement, 36 percent of retirement aged employees anticipate working beyond age 65, up 25 percent from 1991. That’s good news for employers as potential retirees are on the fence about retirement and businesses can’t afford to lose top performers, especially ones that make executive-level decisions. The good news is you don’t have to lose these high-caliber workers, or you can at least avoid it a little longer.