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6 Strategies for Managing the Retiring Workforce

August 22, 2019   By Patrice McGuire

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6 Strategies for Managing the Retiring Workforce

They are here today and will be gone tomorrow. As the last of the Baby Boomers get ready for retirement, many leaders lack preparedness to make this transition a successful one for both the retiree and the employer.

Even though this population will continue to hit retirement in the years to come, it doesn’t mean that they stop contributing and nor should leaders permit that.

Help retiring employees end strong at your company rather than coasting through until the end.

Here are Six Strategies to help employees near retirement stay engaged and productive:

1.  have a Plan

Know the demographics of your workforce.  Determine the ages represented and identify pockets of pending retirements.  Know what your workforce will look like in the next 5-10 years.  Know what areas are at risk with talent leaving the organization. 

You already know that having a succession strategy in place for employees is crucial. You’ve likely received a letter of resignation or let go of an employee who had vital knowledge that was shared with few or no other employees at your company.

Living As A Leader co-founder Nancy Lewis provides the following succession strategy outline in her article, Knowledge Transfer: Is Your Company Vulnerable to Brain Drain?

  1. Make a conscious decision to develop a knowledge transfer plan
  2. Identify the people/positions where loss of knowledge will be most damaging
  3. Develop an approach for collecting and storing information (consider mentors, training, coaching, shadowing, shared roles)
  4. Start with one key role
  5. Create a knowledge transfer team
  6. Establish metrics for measuring progress and completion
  7. Just do it!
2.  Value Them

Treat those who are near retirement with the utmost respect.  Recognize their contribution to the organization.

Employees close to retirement may not be eager to engage in large initiatives, but they may still value growth and development.

Those with pending retirement plans are often are viewed as “coasting” or less interested in new opportunities.  Engage them in different ways:

  • Ask for their input
  • Put them on a new project team
  • Have them share their greatest learnings throughout their career.
  • TELL THEM a specific way in which they are valued! Employees want to know that they are doing a good job
3.  Share their Wisdom

Recognize them for what they know.  Have them share their knowledge with others.

Assign them a newer employee whom they can mentor.  Get them involved in documenting policies, work procedures and lessons learned along the way.  They are a good resource to train newer employees.  They know the organization and how the business works.  They have cultivated good relationships with customers and contacts.

Most are willing to share their wisdom; we just need to ask.

4.  Remember, it's an Emotional Transition

As with any change, there is a period of endings, transitions and new beginnings.  Retirement is no different; along with change comes the emotions of loss, letting go, identity struggles.

It’s difficult to let go of work and a professional identify, and as a result, it may take longer for these folks to “re-invent.”

Show an interest and be empathetic. Ask your employee about their post-retirement plans, share their enthusiasm for their future plans. Ask how you might help them through the transition.

5.  Provide Flexible Work Alternatives

It’s possible to retain the Baby Boomer workforce as an alternative to retirement.

Consider a part-time schedule or flexible schedule for this audience.  Seasonal or short-term work might be intriguing to them.  This will give them the opportunity to work when they are not traveling the country or visiting grandchildren.  Providing this flexibility lets them know they are valued and can give them a sense of purpose.

6.  Recognize Them

For seasoned employees who are near retirement, recognition is more meaningful than advancement.  Celebrate accomplishments and acknowledge contributions.  They may not have as much motivation and drive as they did when they were younger, but they still want to do well.  Support them in their journey to retirement.

Invite them to share their retirement plans and ask for appropriate notification of last date worked.

Be prepared.  Be available. Be supportive.

At Living As A Leader, we offer a Leadership Development Series designed to produce leaders that can positively shape the cultural environment, reduce turnover and achieve crucial business initiatives. We do this by providing training, coaching and consulting with a focus on pragmatic communication tools for leaders at all levels of your organization.

For more information, contact Steph Kotlarek at skotlarek@livingasaleader.com

About the Author


Patrice McGuire

Facilitator and Coach, Living As A Leader®

Patrice has more than 25 years of human resource and training experience, working with leaders at all levels from financial services, manufacturing, retail, engineering and service organizations.

Email Patrice Patrice's Bio

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