Late career

Managers must step up to ensure employees a good late career

Experienced employees are worth their weight in gold for the company. Therefore, as a manager, you should encourage the seniors to draw up a career plan and invite them to sparring about how to make the best possible use of the last part of their working life.

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55 may sound like an early age to start thinking about your late career.

Nevertheless, IDA encourages that employees already at that age begin to consider what will happen in the rest of their working life.

In this connection, the managers of the companies play a vital role. The managers have a great co-responsibility for ensuring that the senior employees have the best possible late career, where they can fulfill their wishes for, for example, more flexible and shorter working hours, where they continue to develop - and where the company at the same time for such a long time as possible benefit from the unique knowledge and insight that the seniors carry around.

According to career advisor at IDA Morten Esmann Andersen, it is crucial for the last long period on the labour market that the employees' thoughts about the late career are started before, as he puts it, it is too late.

"In reality, it's about having a job that's so good that you don't want to retire from it. Therefore, we must look at what can continue to make going to work exciting and attractive in the years to come. Whether the start of those considerations just happens on the day you turn 55 is not so decisive. The most important thing is that you start thinking in good time about what the late career should look like and what is needed for the job to be good and developing in the future as well," says Morten Esmann Andersen.

As a manager, you should encourage employees of the relevant age to draw up a career plan and support them in the process of identifying their wishes for the coming years.

"The manager must come to the field and invite to sparring about how working life can be arranged in the best possible way. The manager of course has a dialogue with all employees at intervals about what the future should look like, but with the seniors there are some other tools that can be brought into play, for example reduced time and more flexibility," says Morten Esmann Andersen.

Not only young people need to develop

At the same time, it is important that both the senior employee and the manager in the dialogue about the late career are open to the fact that the best thing for the employee is usually not to think 'same procedure as last year' in relation to areas of work and responsibility.

"There is a risk that you as a manager - often well-intentioned, perhaps as a form of misunderstood care - see the older employees as those who like the status quo best and do not like change so much. This can lead to repetitive routines for skilled employees, who would actually much rather develop themselves, and in the long term there is a risk that they will start looking for another job. Therefore, as a manager, you must contribute to the development of employees - regardless of age. It is a mistake when some managers think that it is only young people who want to develop by, for example, being given assignments in new, untested fields," emphasizes Morten Esmann Andersen.

For a manager aged 25 or 30, it can be a challenge to talk about late career with an employee who is at least twice as old and significantly more experienced. According to Morten Esmann Andersen, the art for the manager is, among other things, to understand that the experienced employees often act in a different way than the new generations in the workplace.

"Basically, it is a gift for the manager and the company to have employees who know more than the manager and are able to make professional decisions based on experience, and it is a mistake if young colleagues and managers see older employees as someone, that just counts down to the pension. In addition, as a manager, you have to be careful not to misunderstand that while many of the youngest people on the job market are constantly asking for feedback and want to be confirmed that they are doing things well enough, many of the oldest engineers are rather brought up to just do their job, ” says Morten Esmann Andersen.

"So just because you don't stand up on the beer counter and highlight your own results, it's not the same as not achieving good results and deserving recognition," emphasizes the career advisor.

Can develop into a nagging pot

When IDA asks the members what they want in their late career and what can make them stay longer in the labour market, they emphasize time in particular, including the possibility of shorter working hours, flexibility in relation to work tasks and when they are completed, as well as influence on work.

"In recent years, there has been a greater awareness among many seniors that work is not the only important thing in life - there must also be time for other things. For others, the need for recovery has become greater, or there may be definite health reasons why it is a good idea to reduce working hours. But reduced time is not necessarily right for all senior employees – for some, flexibility is more important," says Morten Esmann Andersen.

In general, from his conversations with IDA's late-career members, he notices a tendency that the more experience the employees have, the more influence they want to have on which tasks they have to solve, how they do it and when it has to be done.

The risk, if the manager and the company do not take special care to help the experienced employees to have a good late career, is to have one or more employees leaving who cannot wait until they reach retirement age.

"It is a real shame for the company to lose precious knowledge and experience because an employee aged 68 or 69 feels overlooked or demotivated and therefore retires. At the same time, there is another risk, which may in reality be even greater, if the manager does nothing to develop the senior employees: Namely, that the company in the years leading up to the employee's retirement has a really talented person who has developed into a whiner who believe that everything was better in the old days. And I think we all know how demotivating it is to listen to," says Morten Esmann Andersen.