Good news, Gen Yers — that moment we’ve been waiting for is coming!
At my last job, I replaced a retiring 42-year employee. In the last two weeks, I’ve interviewed for two additional jobs opened up by employee retirements — one of them had been with that agency 33 years.
Thirty-three years. That’s right, on her first day of work, this person could have passed me riding around in a stroller. That baby is your replacement.
This is both an opportunity and a problem. For the last decade or two, these organizations have had the same HR person. They’ve gotten extremely comfortable with the HR person’s style, learned to rely on her strengths, and learned to work around her shortcomings. “Things that she doesn’t do” have become “things that HR doesn’t do”.
You know where I’m going with this: on the interview, they make it clear that they’re pretty much looking for the same person, only a few years younger. Organizational Development? No, HR never did that; we wouldn’t expect that from you. Bonus planning? That’s always been more of a sales function, not an HR one.
Retiring baby boomers is a great opportunity for the rest of us to move into their jobs. However, it’s also an opportunity for your organization. HR can do more than what person who has been doing it for twenty years has been doing. And, if your company really does hold on to employees for this long, you need to take this opportunity to upgrade your talent now before you lose another decade!
Employers: A new hire is an opportunity to look at how the position can be changed. Don’t waste that with a one for one replacement of what you had.
And Gen Y: They’re retiring! Let’s show them what can be done better.
Steve Gifford, MBA, SPHR, is the Director of Human Resources for OEM America, a PEO of more than a hundred companies and more than two thousand employees. His company gives small businesses the buying power and HR expertise of a big company, but without the bureaucracy! In the past, he’s been the HR guy for marketing, manufacturing, retail, and government organizations. His first HR job was in the US Army during his second tour in Iraq, where every employee in his client group carried an automatic weapon. It helps him keep the problems of employees who show up to work late in perspective.