Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boomers’

Broaching the Subject of Retirement with Employees

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Baby boomers retiringWith more millennials entering the workforce and baby boomers preparing to move out of workforce, the question often comes up “Can we ask Tracy when s/he plans to retire?”    Just to be clear, although social security has a retirement age to qualify for benefits, there is no mandatory retirement age for most employees.  (Some exceptions exist for airline pilots, federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, and bona fide executives or high policy makers.)

So can you ask employees about retirement and if so how?  The short answer to this question is a qualified yes, as long as you handle it appropriately.  When done wrong, particularly if you badger the employee, mention “generational words,” or when a supervisor keeps asking, pushing, and treating someone badly for giving a “wrong answer.”  The time and place also matter.  If we never ask the question and all of a sudden start asking all of our employees over 55 when they plan to retire could at the very least cause a morale problem.

Nonetheless, there is nothing inherently wrong with asking any employee about their future plans, and companies need to know that information for many reasons.  The fear of being accused of (or sued because of) age discrimination sometimes makes employers hesitant to ask about retirement.  So in what ways can you broach the subject of an employee’s retirement plans?

  • When an employee has mentioned they are thinking about retirement, you can ask them if they have a date in mind and that you would appreciate if they would give you ample notice to find someone to fill the job and perhaps have them train the person.  If they are not receptive or do not have a date in mind, be sensitive and follow-up in an appropriate way at a later time.
  • For workplace planning purposes, especially in key positions or those that have a longer learning curve/training period in job specific methods.
  • Through a policy that says if you are planning to retire, please give us as much notice as possible so that we can discuss options for training someone to fill the position as well as options for phased retirement (if that is something the Company would consider).
  • Through voluntary early retirement incentive plans that offer a severance to employees who meet a minimum age and number of years of service with a company and elect to take the package.  These should be carefully developed keeping in mind the needs of the business and compliance concerns.  They are generally used when a reduction in force is required and in lieu of an involuntary RIF.  An employment law attorney should be consulted in drawing up such agreements.
  • But what about when you have a great employee you hate to lose but you sense retirement may be in the cards?  In this case, ideally the person having this conversation with the employee has a good relationship with them and ideally that would be the manager.  The idea of retiring is stressful for many employees so we want to be delicate.  The annual review is a good time to venture into this territory particularly when discussing plans for the next year.  You can simply ask, “So Ted, what are your plans for the next year” and see where the conversation takes you.  You are asking merely for planning purposes.  Again, don’t push or badger them for an answer.  You just want to open the door.  It’s ok if they don’t want to walk through that door now.

Options for a smooth transition for the company and employees who plan to retire may include offering phased retirement, where employees gradually reduce their hours as they continue to work part-time until full retirement or while they train and transfer knowledge. Also, upon receipt of the unexpected notice that an employee plans to retire, the company may offer incentives to retain the employee through a training period for a new employee filling their position (be sensitive to the term “replacement” as no exiting employee wants to feel like they can be easily replaced).

Whatever the case, employers should always be prepared for employees leaving, whether through retirement or leaving for another job.  Workforce planning should be an on-going strategy, documenting processes, cross-training where applicable, and maintaining succession plans.  Absent a contract, employment is at-will (either the employee or the company can end employment at any time).  So why should notice of retirement be any different than an employee’s choice to take another job and give notice? The point is, don’t get caught off-guard.  Be prepared whatever the reason.  Let us know if we can help with your workforce management and planning.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

“Never in history has a workforce had four generations working together —until now.”

                –Dr. Kevin Snyder, 2015 Compensation & Benefits Conference

Diverse business group meetingSo who are these four generations working so closely together? In most offices, you will find the:

  • Matures- born from 1925 to 1946
  • Baby Boomers- born from 1946 to 1964
  • Generation Xers- born from 1965 to 1980
  • Generation Yers or ‘Millennials’- born from 1981 to late 1990s

Each generation comes with their unique set of stereotypes and stigmas. While the Matures are seen as loyal but lousy with technology, the Millennial crew seem to attract the opposite perception. While many of these stereotypes are exaggerated, it is undoubtedly true that each generation possesses a distinct set of characteristics from one another.

For many managers, this could sounds like a bit of a headache. After all, who wants a bunch of groups with differing ideas, schedules, and motivations working together? It may sound like a nightmare, but it could actually be an advantage if these differences of habits are leveraged correctly.

To effectively manage your workplace, follow these Do’s and Don’ts  to ensure the generations are working in tandem, and not against, one another.

Do know what each generation is looking for

Knowing your audience is a huge key to success. By understanding what each generation is looking for in a job, you can better manage their expectations and vastly improve their career contentment. Conduct surveys that poll your employees on what they find most rewarding about work. If you find that a large share of your Millennial employees are looking for a strong work culture, organize team lunches or wellness activities for them to take part in. If you find that many of your Mature employees desire one-on-one guidance, try to give them the extra personal attention that fulfills them. With a greater understanding of what makes each generation tick, you will be creating a more engaged, dynamic and productive workplace.

Don’t encourage generational separation

We all enjoy talking to someone we have a lot in common with, and shared age is a great and easy way to bond with a fellow employee. While many employees seem to naturally bond with coworkers of similar ages, it is important to discourage any extreme separation based around age in the office. By combining the varying tastes, attitudes and experiences of the multiple generations at your disposal, you will be fostering a healthy and collaborative dialogue between your employees. Though there is always a potential for conflict, your business would be missing out on the greater potential for new and dynamic teamwork by keeping the generations from working together.

Do recognize their varying strengths

Maybe you have a Millennial employee who’s great with technology, but not so effective when it comes to face-to-face interactions. Or the opposite situation could be true of a Boomer who thrives in personal interactions with others, but understandably lags behind in the tech department. Rather than spreading your employees too thin and expecting the Millennial and Boomer to become well-versed in their respective areas of weakness, recognize their independent strengths and leverage them together. If that means having the Millennial put together the PowerPoint and the Boomer giving the presentation, so be it. By appealing to each of the generation’s strengths, and not holding them hostage to their weaknesses, you will be doing your business and your employees a huge favor.

Don’t assume the generational stereotypes

As we said above, many of the generations possess differing ideals, skills and habits from one another. While it is important to recognize and leverage these varying strengths when you can identify them, do not assume that an employee will lack a certain skill or experience simply because it is not usually ascribed to their generation. By pigeonholing your employees to certain spheres along generational lines, you could be wasting heaps of potential. Be open-minded about each generation, and allow their strengths and experiences to present themselves in due course rather than forcing them into a box in which they may not belong.

If you would like to further discuss how you can more effectively manage a multigenerational workplace, please call our Advice and Resolution team today at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Retirement Planning for the Multi-Generational Workforce

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

The following is a guest post from John McPhail. John serves Bank of Oak Ridge as a Business Relationship Specialist. He has more than 15 years of experience in the financial industry, including direct sales, marketing, and banking. “I guess I kind of learned HR the hard way when I ran my own business, but the experiences were invaluable. If it weren’t for a good HR mentor, I would have ended up a D.O.L. statistic”, said John.

As I sit here reflecting on the 2012 CAI Compensation and Benefit Conference, I can’t help but smile a knowing smile. This smile actually brings to mind a story.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.

“Which road do I take?” she asked.

“Where do you want to go?” was his response.

“I don’t know,”Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “It doesn’t matter.”

It doesn’t matter…wow…what a tragedy. I submit that it does indeed matter. One might have all the skills and desire, but not be able to harness it or make a decision and act. Is this story about choice or direction? Maybe a little of both. More importantly, I feel, this story illustrates the power of purpose.

Purpose to me is the great “why” of the universe. The “why” of my “Retirement Planning for the Multi-Generational Workforce” presentation was simple. I wanted to engage a thought process that will enable everyone to visualize retirement as an eventuality, not just a possibility. Every employee needs to understand that with discipline, consistent contributions, and proper guidance, retirement can and will come to fruition.

With four generations working side by side, there is a need for specialized retirement planning specifically for your individual situation. Each generation has a unique way of seeing and interacting with the universe. Regardless of their approach, the four generations need different action items and respond differently to environmental changes.

Traditionalists were born between 1900 – 1945 and value saving their income coupled with paying cash for goods and services.

  • They represent 5% of the workforce.
  • Traditionalists perceive retirement as a result of 30 years working to retire and then living off their pension/savings. Their immediate financial needs are to keep what they have accumulated through proper distribution strategies. This has never been more evident than in 2008 when personal investments plunged due to the recession.
  • They need income producing investments with a fixed rate of return. Traditionalists will also benefit from having an actual retirement road map that is orchestrated and tracked by a proven financial professional. Healthcare is an important aspect of retirement to consider. Traditionalists need to understand Social Security planning and Medicare implementation.

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 – 1964 and adhered to the buy now pay later mentality.

  • They represent 45% of the workforce. Their biggest obstacle in retirement is the mentality of, “If I retire, who am I?”
  • Most of Boomers identity is from their career, and retirement can seem counter-intuitive to their sense of well-being and worth. With their “buy now pay later” mentality, they need help with debt resolution first and foremost. If you are a Boomer with a mortgage, you might have to continue to work or work part-time in retirement.
  • Baby Boomers need asset protection strategies as well as distribution strategies that will enable them to enjoy an inflation-adjusted income for life. Equity exposure should be at a minimum and they need income generating investments that don’t experience such volatility. Baby Boomers need a proven financial partner to team up and implement and track their financial plan. Social Security and especially Medicare education is a must for Baby Boomers.

Generation X’s were born between 1965 – 1980 and are the first generation not to do as well as their parents.

  • They represent 40% of the workforce and are conservative and cautious with their money. They also save more than the previous two generations.
  • They believe that since they have saved their money, they might retire early to try different experiences and may even change careers in the end. Generation X’s need a portable retirement plan with target date funds, auto-enroll, and automatic increases available. They need strategies in place to mitigate market volatility and education from a trusted financial partner.
  • Equities can be utilized, but they need to be monitored and coupled with some defensive strategies as well. Generation X’s have a better saving rate and could deal with some fixed investment choices to alleviate worry. A proven financial professional is key in keeping Gen X’s on track and motivated. Not surprisingly, Generation X’s need debt management and they need to avoid seeking the bigger, better deal.

Generation Y’s were born between 1981 – 1999 and value individuality.

  • They represent 10% of the workforce and earn to spend.
  • Their financial needs revolve around a need for consistent contributions to their employer-sponsored retirement plan. Active guidance is key to a Gen Y and they require routine feedback. Their financial needs are much like Generation X’s with a portable retirement plan. They would benefit from target date funds, auto-enroll, automatic increases, and a stable rate of return.
  • They are a bit more skeptical of Wall Street and seek a balance between steady growth and explosive returns in their retirement plan. They require flexibility in their financial plan and need active guidance and a regular report on the status of their account. They are very open to education as a tool for achieving their retirement goals.

My knowing smile in the opening of this article emanates from a belief that everyone, regardless of age, can be fiscally responsible. Don’t blame government or the lack of government. Don’t blame your income. Your attitude towards saving is a choice. You choose whether to be wasteful or frugal. Only you can control your spending and saving. If you can’t save for retirement, you don’t have an earning problem, you have a spending problem.

Find a financial partner, live within your means, have an attitude of gratitude and you will be on the road to financial freedom.

 John McPhail was a speaker at CAI’s 2012 Compensation and Benefits Conference. You can contact him at jmcphail@bankofoakridge.com.

Is Your Company Prepared for America’s Ageing Workforce?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Many labor studies and workforce statistics indicate that the American workforce is ageing. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that 4.6 adults will turn 65 each minute during 2012, and by 2025 that figure will increase to eight adults each minute. Knowing that America is graying rapidly, it is surprising that many employers have not prepared for this demographic change when planning for their future business ventures.

Ignoring reports revealing that baby boomers are interested in working past their retirement age and will stay at companies that offer flexibility will leave your company vulnerable to disorganization and revenue loss. Older workers offer a number of benefits to their employers. They are hardworking, loyal and professional. Older employees also boast vast networks of business contacts and extensive experience in their line of work.

Research shows that many baby boomers have no plans to fully retire and are interested in staying plugged into their career fields. If you’re interested in retaining the company knowledge that your older workers have acquired and the strong work ethics they incorporate into each of their projects, make sure you are keeping their needs in mind when you’re planning for company succession and total rewards packages. Listed below are a few items that older workers would like to see from their employers:

Flexibility

Employees approaching retirement age are not interested in working the typical 40-hour week. An increasing number of companies are receiving requests from their older workers to have more flexible work schedules.  Many workers at this age desire a high-quality of life and would prefer to work part time. To accommodate requests, organizations are implementing a number of measures to achieve productive, part-time schedules. Accommodations include reduced hours, telecommuting and job sharing.

Consulting

Data shows that the US is experiencing a skills gap between available positions and available talent. When older workers retire, they take with them company experience and expertise, which is impossible to replace. For your employees who are contemplating retirement, ask them if they’d be interested in working for the company as a part-time consultant. In this setup, they will be able to reduce their hours and continue to apply their knowledge while your organization still has a valuable and reliable company resource on staff.

Health Plans

A company’s health care plan can be a determining factor on whether an employee decides to retire or stay with his organization. Many older workers may remain in their position longer than they’d like for fear that they’ll lose their health benefits. Feeling trapped in their jobs could result in their disengagement and reduced productivity. Meet with your benefits provider and work to offer a wellness and benefits program that will suit all of your employees, including your older workers.

Don’t lose your high-value talent and the company knowledge they carry with them because of poor workforce planning. If you would like additional information on succession planning or managing an aging workforce, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: skilledwork_org

Make Generational Differences Work for Your Company

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Four different generations now make up the United States’ workforce. Organizations should know and understand the characteristics and workplace preferences that make each of the groups unique. Being equipped with this knowledge will assist companies in keeping employees happy and engaged, which in turn will help reduce turnover, attract top talent and achieve business success.

Companies should identify the various generations that currently exist at their workplaces. This information will help target the business practices and employee engagement tools that will be most effective for their staff. Below are some of the traits that distinguish each generation:

Matures (Born before 1946):

Typical characteristics of this age group include: disciplined, loyal, team players, rule followers and putting work before fun. They respect authority and rarely question instructions from their managers. Matures prefer formal and personal communication, such as memos and one-on-one meetings, when interacting with colleagues. They tend to struggle with new technology, but they are valuable resources for company knowledge. Matures are also extremely loyal to their organizations.

Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 -1964):

Typical characteristics of this generation include: workaholics, inquisitive to authority, focus on personal accomplishments and competitive. Baby Boomers are hard workers that will do whatever it takes to finish an assignment, including working nights and weekends and missing family time. This group respects power and accomplishment and prefers public recognition and career advancement opportunities when being rewarded. When interacting with coworkers, they favor a combination of electronic and personal communications. Additionally, they remain loyal to their profession.

Generation X (Born between 1965-1980):

Typical characteristics of this group include: skeptical, self-reliant, efficient and desires structure and fun. Gen Xers choose to work at organizations that will help them attain useful and marketable experiences. They prefer efficiency rather than a set method for getting work done, and they require a strong work-life balance. Competitive pay and time off work make great rewards for them. Giving them greater responsibility makes Gen Xers feel successful. Unlike the generations before them, Gen Xers are loyal to their specific career goals.

Millennials (Born between 1981-1999):

Typical characteristics of this generation include: multitasker, entrepreneurial, goal oriented, tenacious and tolerant. Millennials prefer to work by deadlines and goals instead of a rigid schedule, and constant feedback keeps them satisfied. They like to be recognized both individually andpublicly, and are eager for opportunities that broaden their skill set. They enjoy combining personal life with work life, and they are highly proficient in technology. They become loyal to the people they work closely with.

The descriptions above indicate that each generation values and expects something different from their workplace. Here are a few approaches to use when managing multiple generations:

  • Matures and Baby Boomers have spent many years working. Use them as resources for company questions that Gen Xers or Millennials might have. Matures and Baby Boomers make great mentors to younger staff members, and they can be very helpful when training new staff on company policies, procedures and history.
  • Gen Xers appreciate autonomy and independence in the workplace. Work-life balance is also important to this group. Similar to Gen Xers, Millennials enjoy their free time outside of work. Because Millennials are multitaskers with entrepreneurial spirits, a traditional schedule is not always best for them. Offer schedule flexibility, such as telecommuting, to please both groups.
  • Frequent training opportunities will keep each generation engaged. Encourage Matures and Baby Boomers to offer their younger colleagues career advice through company training or mentorship programs. Have Gen Xers organize training sessions as more responsibility pleases them.
  • Gen Xers and Millennials love receiving feedback. To help all employees succeed, make sure positive and constructive feedback is given consistently through the methods of communication that work best for each generation.
  • Praise and recognition are appreciated by all. Know how each group likes to be rewarded and proceed appropriately. For example, a Baby Boomer would enjoy a company-wide email highlighting their success, while a personalized email about their hard work will please Millennials.
  • No matter the age or length of employment at an organization, all employees should be viewed as valuable staff members. Creating an environment that promotes open communications will help all generations feel appreciated, respected and engaged in their organization.

For more information on how to manage various generations at your organization, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-688-7746.

Photo source: xflickrx