Peter Done is Group Managing Director and founder of business services specialist Peninsula Group.
When you think of retirement, you probably envision the time all employees dream of – when they can finally sit back, relax and spend their days pursuing hobbies, traveling the world or spending precious time pampering their employees. grandchildren.
Many spend their careers saving and dreaming of the day when they can finally move abroad or buy a cottage in the countryside, while others can’t wait to write that book or join a volunteer group. That’s how it’s always been: a solid separation between work and retired life.
Yet, since the 1990s, there has been a growing trend, which has been significantly accelerated by the pandemic, known as non-retirement. It’s exactly what it sounds like; people who retire to go back to work in some way. In 2022 alone two-thirds of people retiring plan to return to work in the future.
It’s not exactly new, but it’s becoming more common as rising inflation and a higher cost of living mean more retirees struggle to pay the bills. While some may see it as a problem and symptom of the skills gap or an overworked workforce, HR leaders and managers should see this as an opportunity to foster a more inclusive and understanding work environment.
The traditional idea of mentoring in the workplace has always been that older employees should take care of a younger employee. Conversely, mentoring turns this on its head by allowing a younger co-worker to collaborate with an older co-worker and share their knowledge.
The modern workplace is changing rapidly and in many ways looks completely different than it did five years ago. Tech skills are in demand more than ever, but technology is changing faster than executives can keep up with and the time it takes to come up with new teaching and training materials is simply surpassed by the pace of growth.
Fortunately, reverse mentoring can be a cheaper and easier way to bridge this skills gap by allowing younger employees to pass their digital skills on to other employees who are retiring and who understandably struggle with new and unfamiliar technologies.
Diversity is still an important topic of conversation and companies are always looking for new ways to increase their inclusivity by making their workplace a more tolerant and understanding place. Unfortunately, age discrimination is a prejudice that persists on both sides of the age spectrum. Younger employees sometimes see their older colleagues as out of touch and outdated ideas, while older employees may see younger employees as lazy and inexperienced.
Mentoring programs are an effective tool for forming strong, mutually beneficial relationships between generations, leading to a remarkable cross-fertilization of ideas and experiences that can build a better and more cooperative work environment.
How older workers can help the younger generation
With careers often spanning many decades, former retired workers have a wealth of wisdom and experience to draw from that younger workers can learn from. They usually have an enormous amount of knowledge and contacts that they can draw on at short notice and pass them on to their younger peers.
In today’s environment, changing jobs every few years is the new norm. It’s not uncommon to see multiple job postings on someone’s LinkedIn profile in recent years. A major reason for this is a lack of engagement because millennials feel that the best way to grow and progress in their careers is to move from one organization to another. The days of graduating, finding a job and holding on to it until you retire are pretty much over.
If your employees are part of a healthy mentor-mentee relationship, they may be less likely to submit their notes. The Nursing Magazine for Plastic Surgeons published a study which found that 100% of participants reported a higher level of job satisfaction after a mentorship program.
Especially for younger employees, being allowed to transfer their skills to an older colleague shows that you value them and their skills, improving retention and boosting their confidence. This can lead them to stay and work their way into leadership positions.
How Retirement Helps Business Results
It is normal to find resistance to the idea of reverse mentoring, as it undermines the traditional notion of a mentor-mentee relationship. Retiring employees may feel uncomfortable being coached by someone less experienced than them, while younger employees may not initially have the confidence to take on the mentoring role.
But it is important to address this resistance immediately. Bringing retired workers back into the workforce and implementing some form of mentorship can benefit everyone if done properly. Not only will it remove the barriers of prejudice, prejudice and miscommunication between age groups, but it will also lead to a more inclusive culture where ideas, perspectives and ways of doing things can be shared, enriching your entire workforce.
Another benefit of hiring or even rehiring retired workers is that it saves on hiring costs and time if you put them in a position for which they are already qualified. Sure, there’s an adjustment period, but with the benefits of reverse mentoring discussed earlier, I think you’ll find that retired workers can quickly adapt to the workplace and become valued members of your team.