Talk Gets Old

“I have an employee, Joe, who is 66. Although he hasn’t talked about retiring, I’d like to start planning to find and train his replacement so we’ll be ready when he retires. How do I initiate that conversation?”

Your HR Survival Tip

You don’t initiate that conversation. Period.

Most discussions about retirement can very easily backfire on you. Initiating that discussion may look like you are pushing the older employee out. Especially if you even hint at a possibly younger replacement.

A previous court decision resulted in a “workable” rule that basically said if the age difference between the employee and their replacement is less than 10 years, there may not be a case for age discrimination. However, that changes if additional evidence shows the employer considered the employee’s age to be significant. It may also make a difference if the replacement is under 40 and the employee is over 40.

You make an employee’s age “significant” if you, or your employees, make comments such as “the old guy,” “let someone younger do that,” “your ideas are obsolete,” “you’re slow,” “your knowledge is ancient,” or “old fuddy-duddy.” Allowing phrases like these to be used in the workplace, even in good humor, can help make a legal case for an older employee. Make sure everyone is treated, and talked about, with respect.

If you want to provide retirement information, provide it as part of an all-employee meeting so no one is singled out. Make sure useful information is provided for employees of all ages. This can be a great topic even if you don’t have employees near retirement age.

You are currently concerned about someone at retirement age, but employees come and go at any age. A viable option is to consider cross-training several employees (not just Joe). Retirement is only one reason an employee leaves a company. Don’t leave yourself open to losing company knowledge or worrying about losing a specific person. Back up what (and who) is important to your company.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.