Saying Goodbye is Hard; Make it Easier with a Plan

In addition to the fact that baby boomers are retiring in droves—with estimates from Deutsche Bank suggesting that 10,000 Americans reach the standard retirement eligibility age of 65 each day—the real issue is that the folks who are leaving aren’t exactly the lowest ones on the totem pole! Instead, companies must brace for some of their most tenured, experienced, and knowledgeable employees to jump ship, and thus must have a plan in hand to guide them as they navigate these unchartered waters.

Have a Plan

If you do nothing else, the most important takeaway from this blog post is to have a succession plan in place in order to successfully survive the baby boom retirement wave. This plan should consider who’s likely to leave, the anticipated departure timeframe, and whether anyone internally could be groomed for the role or if outside candidates need to be considered. Thinking about all of the moving parts can be super daunting, but there is help available. A Professional Employment Organization (PEO), such as Abel, can work with you to outline your near-term, mid-range, and long-term business goals; determine which key executives will need to be replaced; and help you to initiate the job search (whether internally or externally). Your succession plan should also include how to onboard new employees and bring them up to speed so that you don’t have a big lapse in business progress as a result of the transition.

Make Them Want to Stay

When older workers check out or no longer perform their job functions adequately, you can usher them out the door when they reach the classic retirement age. However, some folks who are still super stars, blowing out 65 candles on their birthday cake, may not be ready to—or need to—retire. You can entice these valuable workers to stay a little longer by offering them perks that allow them to dip their toes into the retirement lifestyle, such as flexible scheduling or even part-time work. However, you must remember that their retirement, while postponed, is still imminent, so you should put your succession planning into overdrive.

Each One, Teach One

As we noted in our intro, when a baby boomer retires, you typically lose years of knowledge, experience, and general understanding of how your business functions. After all, particularly those in executive roles, helped shape the company into the entity that it is today. Rather than sacrifice all of an employee’s knowledge when he or she retires, consider setting up a mentorship plan now. Under this model, your current worker plays a role in creating a protégé of sorts who is primed to take over his or her job—almost seamlessly—when the time arises. You can also preserve employee knowledge by having him or her document, document, document! Ask them to write down what they do, how they handle their day-to-day tasks, with whom they work closely, and even the personal skills and personality traits that make them successful in their role. This information can then be used by HR—or whoever is leading the job search—to find a candidate who closely mirrors these qualities and to share with the new hire as part of the onboarding process.

Crafting Leaders

Of course, in order to have a protégé, you need to have a stable of good workers—or at the very least an efficient means to hire the best employees. Once you have them in the door, however, you need to start thinking about leadership development—and specifically executive leadership. To do this, you’ll need to create—or partner with an outside vendor or PEO, such as Abel—to create a true, structured leadership program that will help employees to understand the company’s future business goals, industry trends and forecasts, and skill development strategies that can help mold them into the leaders of tomorrow.

An additional benefit of having such a program in place? Leadership development is rated highly by millennials as being an important trait in a prospective employer, so it will mean that you’re attracting key talent to your company that in turn will serve to build up your future executive pipeline (a true full-circle moment).

Help Them Feel Ready to Say Goodbye

One of the most important aspects of reaching a decision to retire is knowing that it is financially feasible. Research suggests that only 13% of baby boomers feel confident that they have enough money to live out their golden years in comfort, with many suggesting that they’ve made their retirement plans based on a whole lot of guesswork as opposed to an actual, informed decision-making process. Do your older workers a solid by setting them up to speak with a financial planner—it’s a perk that Abel can make happen for your company in the form of lunchtime seminars, one-on-one counseling, or a simple webinar series. By helping them to understand how much money they’ll need to retire—and how they can make that money best work for them—you’ll have a workforce of employees who better understand when they will be most prepared to cash their last paycheck.