Don’t let that grey power go to waste

Hydro Ottawa engages its senior workforce, retirees with great results
Hydro Ottawa Seniors
Hydro Ottawa Seniors

The first wave of baby boomers has already retired, with more to follow. With them, they’re taking decades of practical and institutional know-how that may be critical to the continued growth and success of your operation.

Are you doing anything to engage your older workers and transfer their knowledge to the next generation of talent?

Hydro Ottawa is. Its Prime Time Program earned the company the Best Talent Management Strategy award at the 2015 Canadian HR Awards this past September.

With about 44 per cent of its trades and technical workforce forecasted to retire within the next 10 years, it was a simple matter of necessity, says Lyne Parent-Garvey, Hydro Ottawa’s Chief Human Resources Officer.

“What we set out to do was retain great employees, benefit from their knowledge longer, and arrange for them to transfer that knowledge to another generation,” she said.

Prime Time initiatives include:

Involving grandchildren in company events just as employees’ children would be.

Talk Early, Talk Often: Fostering continuous open dialogue between employees and supervisors about the latter stages of their careers.

Retirement Resource Pool: Drawing on recent retirees to cover short-term and hard-to-fill assignments.

Hiring Overlaps: Having retiring employees work side-by-side with their replacements for a period of time for knowledge transfer.

Pre-Retirement Planning Program: Helping  employees  explore their retirement readiness from financial, psychological and social perspectives.

Retiree Outreach: Conducting targeted exit interviews and outreach to retirees to solicit their interest in the Prime Time Program.

Why these particular initiatives?

Because employees asked for them. To develop Prime Time, Hydro Ottawa relied on a working group made up of soon-to-retire and recently retired employees.

“When developing any kind of program like this, it’s important to involve the individuals around whom the program revolves,” said Julia Wagg, Director, Organizational Development. “From start to finish, retirees and older workers have been involved to steward the success of the program.”

One of those stewards is retiree Ken Lewis, Human Resources Advisor and Retiree Ambassador.

“We wanted to run the full spectrum with this program, from supporting older workers as they transition to retirement and how they could continue to support the organization, to how they could serve as true ambassadors for Hydro Ottawa by participating as volunteers in the community,” Lewis said.

Is your business ready for prime time?

“It was all about advancing the idea that this is the ‘Prime Time’ of your career, and not the end of it,” Wagg added.

So take a look around your shop and ask yourself how you could better engage and lever the know-how of your senior people. It just might be the best ‘hiring’ decision you make all year.