Don’t get too excited by the title. No, I am not advocating for the mass retirement of men. Instead, I am making a case for retirees mentoring replacements before they retire.
Take my retirement in 2014. After 36 years within state and local government (and in many roles) I filed retirement documents about 90 days in advance of my final date. However, I planned retirement years in advance. Well-wishers and friends stopped by to reminisce about 36 years of work life. But those 90 days came and went. The slowest part was packing up, destroying files and closing active records.
Now picture this alternative scenario. I put in my retirement documents, a replacement is hired, and then for most of those final, 90 days, I train that replacement. Perhaps the last days are spent actively transferring active records and knowledge to the replacement, and closely mentoring that person on all the official and casual means of work. This seems much more practical than having the new employee arrive after I am gone. But how will this be implemented and who will take the lead?
Let’s begin with the budget officer. How will the PY’s work out? Does the retiree retire first and come back as an annuitant or continue full-time? What are the cost factors for either case?
Now let’s focus on human resources (HR). Are the necessary policies and procedures in place for both parties? How much lead time will HR need to replace me, onboard the new hire, and then have the employee report to me for training, in unison with the unit supervisor or the division manager? Will the replacement’s probationary period begin before or after I retire? The replacement employee can’t formally have two supervisors reporting on the probation. To whom would they report? Likely, there will be other policies and procedures to amend in the process of mentoring before retirement.
The strongest case for mentoring before retirement is that I (the retiree) have all the talent, experience and knowledge to onboard the new employee for a good career commencement. This is very critical as on-boarding new employee’s needs consistency to cover all work procedures, and there always will be the “unofficial” or casual means of accomplishing work more efficiently or more than one way to proceed. For example, team projects. Here, the work products are jointly and separately produced by team members. When appropriate, other tenured employees produce work products that a new employee may not efficiently produce or comprehend. On the job training takes time and patience.
Another consideration is lost organizational knowledge if I retire without mentoring the new employee. Have you ever been assigned a case and spent days looking for all prior files and records related to the case, especially in multiple stage cases or projects? How long will you review files before you realize which remaining employees are still working? Or worse yet, just retired! Yes, there are many other facts and interpretations you can find in old files. But a mentor can offer tons of organizational knowledge with much less effort, and by the way, greater efficiency.
The “mentirement” could be especially efficient at the management and executive levels because more sensitive information and executive discretions are not typically in files nor are they uniform.
I hope that any and all ASPA members that read this will send it along to your HR executive and other organizational stakeholders. I can’t think of any reasons why this gradual retirement process is not already in place at all levels of government. If it is, please share your experiences in the comments section below.
Maybe retiring men can mentor a more diverse workforce. Hey new employee, mucho gusto!
Submitted by Geoff McLennan