A mountain of corporate time and energy is being devoted to attracting, engaging and retaining Millenials – young folks in the early stages of their careers.
That’s all well and good. But what about the more experienced folks in your workplace – those who have been around ‘forever’, who have worked hard over the years, and who continue to work hard today keeping the boat afloat?
It’s easy to take for granted those ‘lifers’ who are at the far end of their career continuum. With many Boomers choosing to stay longer in the workplace, for a host of reasons which you know all too well, it makes sense to do what you can to help them stay as motivated as possible for as long as possible.
Here are ten strategies that can help you do just that.
- Actively value contributions. Don’t save kind words for a retirement party. Express your appreciation authentically and frequently – as you go, on the go. Let lifers know how their contributions connect to the larger purpose and why they matter to you.
- Extend autonomy. Express your trust and confidence by resisting unnecessary oversight, double-checking, and micro-managing. Provide the space to act independently and flourish in the process. This honors their hard earned capabilities and track records of success.
- Present new challenges. Help your lifers connect to fresh adventures and new experiences in the workplace. Repetition numbs. It leadsto ‘ho hum’ attitudes and ‘been there – done that – seen it all’ mindsets. Create opportunities for experienced folks to learn new skills and try new approaches.
- Support outside interests. Lifers may want to try something different outside the workplace, especially if new opportunities are limited at work. Adjusting work hours may be just what’s needed to allow a lifer to travel, to explore a new interest, or to experiment with a business start-up on the side. Any of these things could reinvigorate and boost the energy they bring to your workplace.
- Invite opinions. Nothing says ‘I value you’ more than soliciting someone’s opinion about issues of the day. Those who have been around a long time have survived the whiplash of pendulum swings and lived plenty of history. Access to the long view on issues may help you learn from the past, and keep you from repeating unnecessary mistakes.
- Encourage two-way mentorship. Experienced lifers make great situational advisors and coaches to ‘wet behind the ears’ newbies. This role also meets the legacy needs of more senior folks. And, on the flip side, tech savvy Millenials can make great advisors to lifers who find they are struggling with new ways to work and communicate.
- Respect experience. Share the spotlight by encouraging lifers to step forward and take the lead in presenting ideas or telling stories that bring organizational values and history to life. Have them fill new folks in on the back-story with respect to clients, processes and challenges faced.
- Temper techno mania. Those who love technology tend to upgrade at the drop of a hat. Sure version X.7 may have more bells and whistles than version T.3. However, given the time required to learn the new system or software, will it really deliver improved service or profitability? Lifers can and will learn new ways of doing things. But it better be worth the investment of time and energy or it becomes just another workplace irritation.
- Share key information. It’s offensive to long tenured employees to learn the news about their own organization on the street or in the media instead of being clued in behind the scenes before that news goes public. Honor their loyalty by respecting their desire to be in the know.
- Sound out future plans. Don’t make assumptions about a lifer’s satisfactions or frustrations, or their desires for more or less responsibility. Find out what they envision in terms of career and life at work and beyond. Open the door for conversations about transitions in a supportive, non-threatening way. Offer yourself as a partner in planning and an advocate in negotiating new arrangements. Stay open to possible shifts in responsibilities, reduced workweeks, and job sharing.
PS – Many of these strategies will serve you well in dealing with Generation X, Generation Y, and the Millenials, too!
© Patricia Katz, MCE CHRP HoF, is a Canadian speaker and author who works with organizational leaders to ease the load and fuel the spirit. This best selling author of 6 books shares her wisdom weekly with thousands of readers of her e-zine, Pause. Sign up for Pause, and learn more about easing your load here on this site. Contact Pat for programs and publications at firstname.lastname@example.org or 306-934-1807.