Strategies for Financial Managers to Retain Retiring Baby Boomers’ Skills and Expertise

Baby boomers may be nearing – and, in some cases, passing – the traditional retirement age, but chief financial officers don’t appear worried about their departures from the workplace, recent Robert Half research suggests. Perhaps surprisingly, given the size of this workplace population, nearly two-thirds of financial executives surveyed said they aren’t concerned about losing these employees to retirement in the next couple of years.

CFOs who did express concern about upcoming retirements most commonly cited leadership and legacy knowledge as the greatest potential resulting losses to their business. A deeper look at the data revealed differences by company size. At firms with 20 or fewer employees, respondents’ greatest worry is losing leadership, while their counterparts at organizations with 1,000 or more employees fret most about the departing functional skills and legacy expertise.

Whether firms feel the threat of imminent retirements of key employees, they should be making retention – of employees and of skills and expertise – a priority. Businesses need programs in place to help keep top performers on board, regardless of their positions, and succession plans at every level of the organization. These steps take on added importance in an environment where the dearth of highly skilled candidates available makes replacing a star employee even more difficult.

Fortunately for businesses, professionals often seek to stay connected to the workforce after they retire. Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director, noted, “Even as they move closer to retirement, many people want to continue contributing their skills and expertise. Companies can take advantage of working with these employees on a consulting basis, who can in turn train other staff members on both the needed technical and nontechnical attributes."

What steps can accounting and finance managers take to make sure when employees do the leave, the organization doesn’t lose the expertise they accumulated? Here are four strategies:

  1. Ensure sound succession plans are in place. Replacing a departing employee is a lot easier when his or her heir apparent has been identified and prepared for the role.
  2. Invite retiring employees to work on a consulting or part-time basis. Also consider flexible work arrangements and alternative schedules that give staff additional control over their time.
  3. Facilitate mentor relationships. Establish a forum for experienced employees to transfer their knowledge to their colleagues.
  4. Hone your training options. Well-built professional development programs enable employers to not just build staff members’ skills but also reinforce key knowledge points and practices to be followed. As an added benefit, employees in consulting roles or transitioning into retirement can be excellent trainers.

For the full survey results, view our press release.

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