Your employees are your closest and most crucial link between the organization and the people you serve. Taking care of your employees at all stages of their careers impacts employee well-being and engagement. And, in turn, affects your organization’s reputation internally and externally.
Retirement is a significant career stage for which you can provide support, and it’s not hard to do! We’ve laid out the why and how to help.
Retirement planning is the process of preparing to transition from work to retirement—and whatever plans you have after retirement. When people think about retirement planning, financial planning often comes to mind. And that’s a big part of it. But there’s more to planning for retirement than finances. It’s a big change—a milestone in life—and like all significant changes, there can also be emotional and social impacts.
It may seem counterintuitive to help your employees plan for retirement—you want to keep good workers, right? Or, on the flip side, you may be worried that your offers of support may be perceived as encouraging or pushing employees to retire, which could be a sign of institutional ageism.
Let’s face it—people are going to retire. And as with all big life changes and challenges, like the death of a spouse, the birth of a child, health and mental health challenges for the employee or a loved one, well-timed and compassionate support from the employer will be welcomed. It can positively impact workplace morale and the reputation of the organization.
Does my employer care about me, or am I just a number? Sure, your employees probably have numbers, especially if you’re a large education sector organization. It’s how you track everything in your internal systems. But they’re not numbers. They’re people. And they talk to each other.
Preparing for retirement is one of the processes with employees that can and should be humanized. When staff feel cared for and supported, they feel more positively about their workplace. They tell their colleagues, friends and families about their experiences (they also do this if they have a negative experience). This matters more than any tagline or mission printed on posters and posted on social media. You know how it goes – show me you care, don’t tell me.
When employees aren’t sure of your processes or your operations are fragmented, it can result in frustration and lost productivity by both the employee and the other staff who are part of the retirement process. A well-laid-out process and an easy-to-navigate location for all necessary documentation will create more efficient and effective workflows.
Retirement is billed as an exciting time. And it is, don’t get us wrong – we are BIG fans of retirement and believe it’s the prime time of life. But that doesn’t mean people don’t feel stress leading up to it.
Employers can help to support employee well-being during this time. Why does that matter? Well—because it does (fellow humans, remember). But if you want a business case, personal and financial stress can lead to distraction at work and other issues.
Creating or modifying your approach to help employees prepare for retirement doesn’t need to be complex. It’s a lot like other projects you take on – seek input, align the approach to your strategic goals, build the system, communicate, seek input—and update as needed!
You may create a committee with representation from different staff groups, survey recent retirees or work with pre-existing groups within the organization. Be sure to get a range of feedback on people’s feelings about retirement, their sense of readiness and what the organization can do to help.
Anything you do to support employee well-being will link to your organization’s overall goals because workplace morale impacts everything you do. That said, you can likely draw some specific connections between supporting employee retirement planning and your goals. For example, at RTOERO, one of our strategic goals is to be the trusted voice for the broader education community. How our employees feel about our organization matters because they’re the ones talking to the organizations we partner with and our members and future members.
Take a look at your existing retirement process and procedure and any forms you have. Look at what’s needed for your organization, but also consider the pension provider, unions, benefits and other groups that are linked to your employees through the workplace. Map the steps your employees need to follow. Identify gaps in the flow—is there information missing? Are there places that you can insert helpful, related information that goes beyond what’s needed at your workplace?
Here are some articles and information on our site that you can link to build your retirement planning hub:
You could also:
Consider whether you want to include retirement planning information for younger employees, for example, links to additional savings options through the pension provider.
Once you have your information in one place, be sure employees know about it. Create a communication plan. Strategies and tactics may include:
The goal here is to make sure people know how to find what they need when they need it. You never want to ask someone if they’re planning to retire soon—or to suggest they should, of course. Wait until they come to you/their supervisor and, until then, share the information broadly with groups, not individuals.
Feedback is your friend. You can’t expect to get things exactly perfect on the first go. We’re learners and hopefully committed to continuous improvement. And so, as you do with other processes, ask for feedback on the retirement support available. This can be as simple as a short survey for retirees who have accessed the hub, or a question or two during an exit interview.
What do you do with the feedback? Use it! It’s a bonus if you can communicate with employees about changes you’ve made based on the feedback. The second biggest issue with seeking feedback is never closing the loop on it. (Wondering what the biggest issue is? Not seeking it in the first place.)
We’ve been helping education sector employees prepare for retirement and enjoy the journey for more than 50 years. We’re here to help! Be sure to take advantage of the articles and links we’ve shared above and reach out if you need something specific or have an idea.