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I’m increasingly invited to retirement celebrations for former and current consulting clients and friends.  They are quite distressing events.  First, the retiree is typically putting on a brave face, boasting about all the golf and fishing they will enjoy.  But often beneath the surface bluster is a deep-seated fear.  Sometimes they ask me if my firm might have a role for them, or if I know any organizations that could leverage their experience – in spite of the talk of daily golf, they don’t want to leave the IT industry – especially now, when things seem to be getting more exciting than ever.

These are folks in their early 60’s who have been incented to “take the package.”  There is an irony as their bosses and peers are often equally fearful – of losing access to all the knowledge about to walk out of the door.  “Bill ‘s the only one that really understands the manufacturing business and its systems – I don’t know how we’re going to manage without him!”  “Why don’t you create some form of alternate work arrangement for Bill?” I ask, “Perhaps part time?”  “That would be great, but our company just does not do that kind of thing.”

I’ve become sensitized to this issue ever since my company BSG Alliance completeted its landmark research on demographics, culminating in a McKinsey Award-winning HBR article, and my colleague Tammy Erickson’s superb book Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation.  This really exposed me to the issues, and to the very pragmatic, win-win solutions that enlightened firms are now offering.   It occurs to me that IT organizations are often shortchanging themselves.  They are often striving to increase Business-IT Maturity, while allowing their more “mature” talent to walk out of the door!  Admittedly, there are some old timers that are stuck in the old paradigm – don’t know about things like SOA, SaaS, Enterprise 2.0, and so on, and don’t care to.  But there are many that have kept up, AND bring the deep knowledge and expertise about their business and systems environment that only comes with 15 or 20 years “in the hot seat.”

There are many emerging HR and Talent Management practices that are win-win, and yet which many organizations don’t take advantage of.   I put my company’s research to the test a couple of years ago, as I approached 60, and they willingly allowed me to move to a 4-day week schedule.  In a consulting and research job, with its grueling travel schedule, the day off makes a huge difference.I get the benefit of more family and private time, plus staying with the company and the industry that I love – it’s been a real win-win!  I’m also more productive – the things I now say “no” to, are probably things I should not have been doing anyway, but now I have an excuse!

I encourage you to check-in on the website http://www.retire-retirement.com/.  Look at the white papers and thought pieces available, buy the book, and join the discussions.  Perhaps you can be part of changing the practices at your company, and securing for yourself a more reasonable and mutually beneficial trajectory into retirement.