By the
Mind Tools
Editorial Team

Handling People's Retirement

Transferring Knowledge and Maintaining Motivation

© iStockphoto

Many people look forward enthusiastically to retirement. It seems like a dream of something fabulous that will happen "someday." Sleeping in, golfing, playing bridge, traveling the world – all at their leisure.

Well, believe it or not, that day is very close for millions of people around the world. The next 10 years will bring one of the largest "knowledge drains" in world history, as a huge percentage of the world's workforces begin to retire. The numbers speak for themselves: in the United States, tens of millions of workers will walk out their companies' doors over the next decade. Other countries – like the UK, France, Spain, and Japan – will see a similar proportion of their workforces retiring.

If you're nearing retirement, how do you start preparing for your last year at work? How will you stay motivated, when all you want to do is plan your life of leisure once you're gone? And if you're managing people approaching retirement, how will you guide them through this period, and make sure your younger generation of workers has the tools they need when it's their time to take over?

We'll cover retirement issues from both of these angles, and show you what to do to prepare.

Part I: Walking Out the Door

If you're counting the days until you can yell, "I'm gone!" then this section is for you.

Looking forward to your new life of relaxation and leisure is normal, but it's important to stay motivated during your final months at work. Wasting time daydreaming, day after day, isn't fair to an organization that may have provided well for you these past few years.

So, how do you stay motivated until it's time to leave?

  • Become a mentor.

    When you stop and think about it, you have years of insider knowledge about your organization, your industry, and your customers. Even the most highly qualified new business school graduates simply can't know the details, the history, and the people that you do. So, one way to stay energized about work is to become a mentor to people in the younger generation, who will move up after you're gone. Why not take the time to pass along your hard-won knowledge? Learn more about mentoring .

  • Get organized.

    If you were taking over someone else's job, would you want to walk into a disorganized mess? Probably not. Before you leave, organize all of your files (electronic and hard copy) so that the person replacing you can make an easy transition. And don't be afraid to get rid of the unnecessary stuff. This can also keep you motivated in your day-to-day tasks. See The Art of Filing for more on this.

  • Prepare an "orientation" booklet.

    What do you wish you had known when you first started your job? What are your secrets for getting the work done? What shortcuts have you found along the way? Think about what you've learned over the years, and write it down for the next person. This is not only a nice thing to do, but you'll feel better as well. Documenting your knowledge will help make your replacement's job easier, and it can be fun for you.

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Part 2: Managing the Shrinking Workforce

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