My husband recently retired and his firm held a lovely party to send him off. It was a wonderful event and he was deeply touched for the recognition that they showed him for his years of service to the company.
As we were driving home, I began reflecting that many friends and colleagues will be attending these parties over the next few years as the Baby Boomers finally decide to retire.
As an HR professional, I’ve been involved in reviewing, writing and implementing various retirement and recognition policies over the years. Many firms have rewarded their employees’ long-term service both when they leave and while they’re still employed. Some firms give extra vacation time with year milestones (5,10,15, etc.), allow them select from a gift registry and some even have explicit policies for retirement gatherings and send-offs. It’s important to have robust programs and policies to ensure your employees are recognized for their commitment to your organization.
However, while festivities and recognition are very important to ensure that your retiring employees feel the ‘love and commitment’ for their service, for the company and the employee, the transition meeting is probably the most important part of an employee retiring. This is the meeting that formally ends the employment relationship. At this meeting, it’s critical for the organization to work with the retiring employee to make sure that the employee understands and has all questions answered regarding 401(k) plans, pensions, health insurance and other items that are considered retirement benefits. A well-organized transition meeting gives employees the peace of mind on important factors that will have an impact on the next chapter in their life.
One of the areas that has become more of a hot topic today around employee retirement is knowledge transfer. Many organizations are starting to recognize that as employees exit the workforce, the knowledge they have obtained throughout their career goes with them. Thus, it’s absolutely critical for organizations to take a long and hard look at their current knowledge retention and transfer programs, succession plans and their overall transition retirement plans to ensure that they are creating effective programs and capturing the relevant information that is critical to the future success of the organization.
While knowledge transfer is an important part of the retirement transition session, this is something that ideally is done well before an employee’s departure. Not only does knowledge transfer provide a strong foundation for future employees to continue to learn and be mentored by these retiring employees, it’s also a gesture that signals to retiring employees that the organization values their insights, knowledge and expertise.
Retirement can be a difficult decision for a lot of employees. Ensuring that your retiring employees have a smooth transition out of the organization is one step to mitigate some of the added stress with such an important life decision. It’s also absolutely critical that your organization ensures that these retiring employees’ expertise and knowledge stays with the firm and can be leveraged for continued organizational success. It’s a win-win for the employee and the organization if both are handled with professional care and importance.