The Topic of Retirement

Bringing up retirement with older employees can be a difficult responsibility. It’s important to broach the subject with delicateness and respect in order to best avoid any possible accusations of age discrimination, and doing so can involve a variety of strategies.

First, it’s best to refresh your knowledge of age discrimination laws if you haven’t already done so. Work with an attorney who may be able to provide further insight into this subject. Pressuring an older employee to retire can fall under the category of harassment based on age, and simply telling him or her that you’d prefer them to retire is ill-advised. Rather, bring up the topic by asking if they have any retirement plans including their hobbies and interest, which may eventually lead to their desired timelines.

If their effectiveness as an employee is still intact, the aforementioned strategy in delicately approaching the subject can be useful. However, if said older employee is beginning to show signs of regression in his or her work, urgency may be a little more necessary. In this case, sitting them down in a private meeting to discuss the matter is highly suggested. Again, pressuring any employee to retire is unwise, but discussing their developmental needs is within your right as an employer. Instead, offer opportunities to improve.

Some employees may ask for a phased retirement. This is when the employee retiring requests his or her work hours to slowly start reducing over a period of time. This option is typically for those who have built a substantial amount of financial resources in preparation for their retirement. If this is the case for an employee of yours who is soon to leave, be sure that it is a mutually beneficial decision. The amount of work that would then be left to do should be feasible for another employee to cover, or for a new hire to pick up with ease.

No methods in bringing up the subject of retirement are guaranteed to work, but going about them blindly would almost ensure a negative outcome. Be transparent as to why you wish to have an employee retire, or why you’d suggest them doing so, but remember to be kind. Consider offering severance packages or early retirement to encourage employees to accept your proposal, rather than attempting to persuade them.
It’s vital to understand that retirement can be a frightening thing for people. Not knowing what they will do once they’ve left the workforce and having a large amount of free time can intimidate employees, so approach the subject lightly, and with the utmost respect, as they’ve given years of their life to work, thus helping you and your business. It is your responsibility as a professional to help them with their retirement plans, which can be translated as a “thank you” for all of their hard work and efforts.

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