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How Should We Use Retirees to Train Our Younger Workers?

June 28, 2012
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Dear Training and Retaining:

You are on the right track, as it would be a lost opportunity for all that company knowledge to leave your organization without being passed on.

First, consider gathering all, or at least a representative sample, of these "seasoned employees" into a focus group. Ask them how you can tap their company knowledge once they retire. You will want to learn their opinions regarding schedules, compensation, duties and other conditions that are important to them. Also, this discussion sends a clear signal that continuing to employ these people in consulting roles, even after they retire, is of such importance that your organization will adjust to their needs as best it can.

One outcome of the focus group might be to establish a mentoring program in which veteran employees (retirees) serve as coaches to new hires. Retirees might even be able to mentor several new people simultaneously. This gives structure to their roles.

While your primary goal is to have retirees pass along important job information to their successors, the company also will want this information to share in perpetuity. Human resources ought to interview each of the retirees before they make their exit from the organization. This information then could be passed on to the appropriate functional leaders for their use. Questions should be as specific as possible to reveal hidden secrets for getting the work done. For example:

1. What are the three best tips you would give to someone just starting your job?

2. What changes could the company make to this job that makes it easier to perform and better serves our customers?

3. If you could give a five-minute speech on orientation, what suggestions would you give new employees on how to be successful in our company?

The national talent shortage is requiring companies to take extra steps to retain their talent for as long as possible and to share that knowledge throughout the organization. Calling on your loyal retirees is a great way to start.

SOURCE: Dick Finnegan, Retention Institute, Longwood, Florida

LEARN MORE: Please read here for tips on formalizing cross-training.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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