I forgot my password
Your email address will be used to create a KellyOCG username and to provide you with emails on the latest content updates. You will receive an account confirmation email shortly. At any time, update the My Membership profile to personalize your email options.
Welcome to the KellyOCG Community, . You are just one step away from access to our Member content.
Please check your email for the confirmation link to continue.
If at any time you find you have questions regarding your membership, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.
We look forward to connecting with you.
VP & Global Practice Lead
William (Bill) Ayers is vice president and business unit leader of The Ayers Group, a New York-based career management firm and part of the Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group. Mr. Ayers founded The Ayers Group in 1975. When Kelly acquired the firm in 2006, Ayers was enlisted to continue to lead The Ayers Group as part of KellyOCG. A nationally recognized expert in career management, Ayers oversees the firm’s development of innovative strategies to help clients in a wide range of industries lead and manage organizational change.
Ayers is a Fellow of the International Association of Outplacement Professionals, recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Award for community service, and a member of the board of trustees of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. He has served on the board of directors of the Boy Scouts Council New York Chapter and was a member of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce. He is a frequent contributor to journals and newspapers and a noted speaker on career management in the 21st century.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Quinnipiac University.
My colleagues and I have been meeting with senior HR decision-makers to discuss how their organizations approach mature workforce planning.
When we initiate the subject, what often follows is a “deer-in-the-headlights” moment. When I ask who is going to champion this internally, the initial response is often, “I’ll be retired by the time this is a big issue, so it’ll be someone else’s problem.” After reflection, nine out of ten times, HR steps up to the plate and saying, “we will.”
That’s encouraging, because mature workforce planning needs a champion. This area is going to require tremendous attention and effort in terms of employee relations, succession planning, talent management and recruitment – as well as an attitude adjustment. It falls to those who currently head HR to own and sell the importance of these issues while there is time to get ahead of the curve.
Even today, with some 14 million people out of work, there are jobs that remain vacant because companies can’t find qualified workers to fill them. As mature workers exit the workforce in increasing numbers, the skill deficit is projected to increase. Now is the time to prepare for this future dilemma, and it’s going to take backbone to champion the cause to a reluctant C-suite.
A BOOMER CONUNDRUM
Addressed by Joan Caruso in this issue of The Ayers Report, succession planning is a key component of mature workforce planning; talent management is another.
Retirement of mature workers is a complex issue. Since the recession began, boomers have been frozen: unsure they can afford to leave and unsure of what their next steps should be. The Gen Xers behind them increasingly feel blocked, and their patience is wearing thin. Gen Y is not patient at all. So how are you bringing the younger talent on? Are you finding ways to provide opportunities for growth and development? Or are you going to watch them walk out the door when the job market improves?
Your boomer population inevitably will begin to leave. And it’s well-publicized that few intend to stop working when they leave full-time employment. Are you prepared to capture and transfer this knowledge? Do you have a strategy for phased retirement or other arrangements that let you continue tapping into key talent in this population? Or will your mature alumni be taking their institutional knowledge and experience to competitors?
It’s a conundrum, and everyone seems to be getting stuck.
We’re hearing that senior management often is not open to the idea of phased retirement or interested in retaining mature workers. Your challenge is to help them recognize that valuable assets from across generations will be needed in the years ahead.
OPENING THE CONVERSATION
Another frustration our HR colleagues express is that even if they have done a demographic scan and skill assessment of the workforce, it’s difficult to plan for succession and recruitment without knowing who is retiring and when. And everyone is especially reluctant to have this conversation in such a litigious environment.
From the point of view of the mature worker, there is fear associated with being asked whether you are staying or leaving. Retirement – which connotes being put out to pasture – can be experienced as a four-letter word. Take a retirement package and you’re labeled.
Educating mature workers about this important life transition should immediately become part of talent management. Everyone needs to understand that they can’t start planning for the next phase of life on the day they decide to leave. It’s a process that needs to begin well before that day. Most are at sea about what they really need to consider as part of retirement. They think it’s simply about having enough income. Some factor in the care of aging parents and perhaps the desire to be close to grandchildren. Fewer think about health over the long term. Few know how to weigh the whole issue of productive occupation and continued growth, the underpinning of self-worth – which is what has driven them in their careers.
We developed our Active Life Planning (ALP) program to help open the all important-but-much-feared conversation. That conversation should start with the question, “Do you have a plan for what you’re going to do after you leave full-time work? No? We can help you.” Providing this kind of program helps normalize the transition by removing fear and stigma. And people will embrace something they perceive to have value.
This is similar to the situation with executive coaching in its early years. To gain acceptance, we had to educate people that it wasn’t about remediation. It was a reward for being among the best and an investment in making them even better. As in that case, the way to send the message that participation is encouraged is by starting with high-profile individuals.
This new decade is going to be a busy one for our colleagues in HR. It will take their leadership to create a strategy for mature workforce planning. You may be contemplating your own transition a few years down the road, but this is your opportunity to stop and think about what your legacy will be. It’s what you do in the end of your career that people remember most.