Companies are actively choosing to engage with boomerang retirees; a term referring to people who exit a company gracefully after their career ends, then return to work shortly afterwards again. We know it takes time for companies to locate talent – and when they do, that they need to retain, develop and nurture it. On departure, those employees leave with invaluable intellectual capital that can often be hard to replace. In a flash, all that accrued organizational knowledge, experience and insight walks out the door. By re-hiring these retirees, that knowledge is retained and protected in the organization.
It might sound like some sort of trendy HR buzzword but disregard the term at your peril. It describes an increasingly critical pillar of the workforce. And it’s not just intellectual capital they leave with. They are great corporate evangelists as well as great coaches, tutors and mentors to new employees and emerging talent too. Seniors are in a position to impart acquired wisdom not only about the company but about working life.
A common question emerging talent ask is what would seniors tell their younger self? What do they wish they had known when they started their career? Pearls of wisdom that only come from experience and are best imparted by people employees can relate to. People who have walked in their shoes. Retirees are perfectly placed to fill this role. And companies are acting on this knowledge.
Boomerang hires are also one vital way to bridge the active talent gap – beyond merely sharing wise counsel. Companies are recognizing that there is a world beyond the definition of traditional employment that they need to embrace to remain competitive. Seniors embrace this too. A 2013 poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 82% of workers age 50 and older believe it is somewhat likely they will work during retirement.
New technology focused on this area, innovation that pushes boundaries, is helping to make this active and intelligent engagement possible. With companies no longer considering employees who leave ‘a deserter’ on exit, moves are afoot to ensure that retirees retain ties to their company and the people who work in it. Technological solutions are at the heart of building this robust and sustainable bridge.
Some of the ways that our customers are engaging with their retiree community via our alumni solution, Alumni Management, is through events, continued learning opportunities, mentoring and recruitment. By establishing a formal alumni programs leveraging best in class technology, the employer can slice and dice data to ensure the retiree sees relevant information, calendar dates of noteworthy gatherings, jobs that may interest them and ways to stay in touch with former colleagues.
Whilst the benefits to a company are obvious, leaving a rewarding job for a life of long lunches and daytime television can often be an abrupt jolt to people accustomed to earning a living and interacting with colleagues. Being an extended part of the workforce can, for many, be surprisingly compelling – whether for the remuneration or mental stimulation. And an integrated, automated alumni platform is an efficient way to do this.
The definition of what it means to retire is changing. And today, success is gained by sharing, as opposed to hoarding, knowledge. A thriving alumni community and recognizing the rich pool of talent represented by the boomerang workforce is one way to ensure this shared success can be achieved.