Thursday, September 10, 2009


HR managers are now encouraging their older employees to delay their retirements. Why? Because they feel that instead of investing time and energy in recruiting and training fresh talent, at all times, they are seeking to use the wealth of experience and knowledge of their older employees to benefit their companies. We find out more about this trend....
Yasmin Taj
Changing times and the need to have a good life has led to intense competition and stress. People do not lay back and relax, as everyone is a part of the rat race. Some want to make more money, some want job security and some simply strive for a better future. We work harder than generations gone by and we have greater expectations from life than our parents did. Therefore, to keep up with the challenging and ever changing times, many working professionals are opting to delay their retirements. So, how has India Inc. reacted to this? Is it a boon or a bane? According to Sunil Singh, AGM HR, Tulip Telecom Ltd, professionals delaying their retirement has certainly proved a boon for organisations. “We think valuable technical knowledge cannot be replenished simply by hiring new talent. It is therefore safe to say that an employee delaying his/her retirement can be a good thing for an organisation,” Singh says. Sudeshna Datta, EVP & Co-Founder, AbsolutData Research & Analytics agrees, “Delayed retirements are a huge plus for organisations that value the knowledge, specialised skills and guidance that the vastly experienced older employees can bring to the table. This helps retain talent for a longer time period. It also gives organisations more time to plan in advance for the changes that come along with the retirement of employees, especially in strategic positions. However, the flip side of this is that it could lead to stagnation or a dearth of new ideas.” For Mamta Wasan, VP HR training, Fidelity National Information Services, an employee delaying his/her retirement, can be both, a boon or a bane. “This works both ways. It is an advantage in the sense that the knowledge and experience of the employee remains with the company. They also bring a level of maturity to the table. On the other hand, an older employee may not have the energy of a young one, may not be in touch with the latest trends, management practices and technology. They also add to the health care costs of the company. Finally, until they retire, there is no scope for recruiting new talent as there are no vacancies.” Although this practice is slowly gaining popularity in the workplace, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages that must be considered. “Today's workforce tends to be more geographically mobile. Therefore retaining such young workforce is far more difficult than retaining old employees. Older employees are easier to manage as a workforce. If an employee is healthy, a delayed retirement can help secure his or her financial independence,” Singh states. On the other hand, he says, “As they get older, employees tend to lose the energy, speed and agility that is required to be competitive and efficient in today's market. Retirement at the age of 58-60 is an ideal option. It also opens doors for fresh blood and promotion opportunities for middle management cadre. Delayed retirement is the biggest obstacle in in training. Both are a huge asset creating career tracks for indi- to the organisation and their deviduals.” layed retirements have proved Though a lot of organisations valuable.” believe that delayed retirements An employee from Fidelity can be a boon to them, many are puts in his two cents, “It is imyet to put it into practice. “We at portant to stay fit and to keep Tulip have not faced the problem one’s self in sync with the of brain drain, therefore, we do younger generation. One must not encourage delayed retire- embrace technology and stay up ments. Tulip has quite a young to date. We can use our hard workforce, the average age of earned wisdom and contacts and our staff as a whole is under can pass on what we know to the thirty. In teams like project man- next generation. We must ask agement and infrastructure de- ourselves what value we add to velopment, the average employee the organisation. If we have is only 27 years old. In sales, the clear targets in mind, and can average age is 29 and is slightly achieve them, then we are an ashigher. In strategic initiatives set rather than a burden.” and the leadership team, the av- As far as delayed retirements erage age is about 45 years,” ex- are concerned, the jury is still plains Singh. out for India Inc has not accept-But a few other organisations ed this new reality and is still have started accepting delayed waking up to this new day. retirements, although this is Those who follow the trends and more an exception than a rule. read the tea leaves though pre-“Yes, we sometimes encourage dict that in the future, delayed delayed retirements in our or- retirements are going to be all ganisation, specifically in areas the rage. Until that new dawn that require extensive and specif- comes, we must simply wait and ic knowledge.” Wasan adds “I watch. can recall two such cases – one in the area of banking and another

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