Later Career Retention

People who are later in their career know some things, have different experiences and motivations, and have different needs than do folks who are early in their careers.

This page provides access to the information and strategies needed to effectively retain late career people.


2. Don’t Take Them for Granted

Typically, even very good organizations work harder on retaining new employees but they take their veteran employees for granted. They assume that, “If they have stayed here this long, they aren’t going to leave now.” The research says otherwise.

3. Career Development

The typical methods for career development that we use with junior and newer employees are not sufficient or appropriate for most veteran employees. Yes, these strategies ARE important for veterans IF they perceive they will be working for 10-15 more years, so in these cases:

  • Individuals with 10-15 years of work before they retire should be identified and listed.
  • Career development programs designed specifically for this group should be developed and implemented to retain these persons.
  • Such programs should emphasize leadership development and succession, but must use the “Balanced” succession model discussed elsewhere in this web site under the “Solutions’ tab and “Succession” link.

4. Issues in Late Career Retention

1. Work Life and Scope of Work
The more skilled employees become and the more they “pitch in” to help, and the more they are called on to help. The result is that the breadth or scope of their work is gradually expanded well beyond the job that they are paid to do or that they feel they “signed on’ to do. They typically have to give 110% everyda. This is especially the case as “do more with less” becomes an economic sustainability issue for many organizations.

This tendency is worsened when tasks assigned these ver capable people are those which do not require the skills of the career they are in and have prepared for.

2 Respect, Recognition, and Support.
They don’t mind learning new skills or applying what they know in new areas of responsibility, but they do mind when these are taken advantage of and taken for granted, with no recognition or support offered for these extra tasks.

When this reaches a level of “crisis everyday” and no recognition for the extreme effort that requires on a routine basis, people often seek better working conditions. This is especially true in late career when people have no children at home anymore, get tired easier, are looking forward, even in the distance, to retirement, and a moving in their lives to activities that deliver greater sense of purpose and satisfaction.

3. Increasing Regulation and Accountability
As senior employees try to maintain their own sense of self respect in light of previous factors, the lack of professional autonomy becomes a very big issue. Of course, in many professional settings the move to more team-oriented environment heightens this decease in autonomy too.

There are several other areas of concern to later career persons, but the above issues are the key ones.

Retaining later career employees requires that they not be taken for granted and that they have what they need to do the work that is expected of them.

5. Strategies for Later Career Retention

Of course, the strategies we use to increase retention of these valued veterans become even more important because of:

  • More and more “baby boomers” retiring;
  • The need for skilled, specialists and other talent increases;
  • Access to college education receives less governmental support;
  • The number of persons in college training “pipelines” decreases;

Loss of your highly skilled, deeply knowledgeable veteran employees becomes a greater challenge.

If they are not there to mentor, to pass on what they know and can do, the gradual improvement of productivity, performance, and even the growth and success of organizations can no longer be assumed.

  1. The first and most critical strategy is to use all of the retention strategies on veteran staff that we have learned are effective with newer or junior staff. This means that:
  2. There needs to be a organization retention plan for veteran employees.
  3. They (the mentors we count on) also want to keep learning and improving so the mentors need to be mentored.
  4. They need new challenges.
  5. But they also need to feel successful in those new challenges, so…
  6. They need continual training to successfully handle the new challenges.
  7. They want to make a difference – so let them mentor others and redefine their work to make that part of it.
  8. They are concerned about the legacy they leave behind them – so again, let them mentor, but help them to know how to do it ever more effectively, so they know that what they have done DID make a difference.
  9. Placing veteran staff in mentoring roles needs to be accompanied by adequate training and support for doing that role well or the value of mentoring as a retention strategy for late career folks will be lost.
  10. Placing veteran staff in mentoring roles needs to be accompanied by adequate recognition for the difference that role makes to people and the organization, and for doing that role well, or the value of mentoring as a retention strategy for late career folks will be lost.
  11. Placing veteran staff in mentoring roles needs to be accompanied by adequate time during the work day for doing that role well or the value of mentoring as a retention strategy for late career folks will be lost.