Over the next decade, employers will have to create workplace programs that recognize employees’ careers beyond retirement, speakers on a panel at an event in Toronto suggested on Wednesday.

“Stats Canada still ends [the definition of] working-age Canadian at age 64, and yet we know that people are working well beyond that age,” said Lisa Taylor, chief executive officer of Toronto-based Challenge Factory Inc., an organization that focuses on strategies for an aging workforce. Taylor was part of a panel hosted by Morneau Shepell Ltd. that focused on workplace challenges in the modern economy.

Read: How to prepare employees for the psychological impact of retirement

She noted Canada’s retirement age dates back to the 1930s when life expectancy was just 62 years. “With an 82-year life expectancy, we’re not just drawing out mid-career longer,” she said. “We’re not just saying you have to work 20 extra years; what’s actually taking place is there’s a new cycle, a new phase of career. . . . Organizations will have to have talent programs that recognize a legacy career or an encore career or a third phase of that career cycle as standard practice.”

One of the solutions for transitioning older workers through this last phase of their career is creating opportunities for contract or part-time work, said Eileen Dooley, vice-president at VF Career Management in Calgary, during the panel discussion. “This is a way that boomers can continue to do what they like to do but maybe on a part-time basis or on a project basis.

“It allows companies to minimize the liabilities of hiring a full-time employee and also allows the boomers to continue to do what they’re doing and do it in a less structured way and something that more meets their timelines. . . . Employers will pay for knowledge, they’ll pay for experience, they’ll pay for industry understanding, and that stuff is not necessarily found with someone who’s been in the workforce for 10 years. It’s found with someone who’s been in the workforce for 30 years. And there’s a value to that.”

Read: Rethink your approach towards mature employees

At the same time, employers should do more than just create programs that transfer knowledge from one generation to another, according to Taylor. Instead, they should look for ways to create career paths, learning opportunities and training and development programs that encourage different generations to work together to translate organizational knowledge to prepare for the coming years.

When it comes to knowledge transfer, employees who have left the organization are a great resource for employers, said Taylor. “The truth of the matter is you’re going to end up with more alumni than employees. By ignoring the segment of life that comes after people leave you after they retire, what you’re doing is you’re telling them, ‘We need you to do this, but there’s no opportunity for you in the future.’ No one likes to take a step off the cliff without knowing something’s going to happen when they land.

“Universities are so smart about getting ready for alumni, right from that very first welcome package. They train us to become alumni before we even step foot on campus as a new student. And companies need to think the same way. It’s normalizing the career path and talent management program so you’re addressing the entire life segment and not missing out on an enormous opportunity to capitalize on what’s actually a third of our lifespan.”

Read: 75-year-old retiree finds ‘real joy’ in returning to Sun Life as an intern

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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