Dilemma of the Month: Easing An Employee Into Retirement

We are a 30-agent real estate brokerage company with one administrative assistant, our lone employee. She has been with us for more than 30 years and is loyal and cheerful, and always answers the phone with a smile. However, her professional abilities have not kept pace with the times. She has no technical skills and can’t keep up with her other tasks. She is 75 years old and we are at a loss regarding how to handle easing her into retirement.

To read my answer, click here: Dilemma of the Month: Easing An Employee Into Retirement

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4 thoughts on “Dilemma of the Month: Easing An Employee Into Retirement

  1. I’m almost as old as Jane, and — at one point — I think my employer might have said the same thing about me. So-called “digital natives” — younger people who have grown up with computers, cell phones, etc. — forget that older people did not. All it required in my case was a little training, and I’m practically as digitally savvy as anyone in the office.

  2. We have an amazing woman in my organization who “should have retired a decade ago” by age. But in reality, she keeps up with professional development, has an incredible way with walk-in customers, and is wonderful to work with. Offer her opportunities for professional development training in her weak areas first! Maybe she could keep up with a modern way of doing things if she was trained how. Many people fall into the “this is the way I’ve always done it” kind of thinking and don’t even realize how easy it might be to do things a more modern way.

  3. Another thing to think about.Is it realistic to expect one person to fully support 30 agents within a 40 hour work week?

    If that’s the case, you should STILL offer her training, but getting a second (perhaps part time) person in makes even more sense.

  4. Now that you made the point of “dealing “ with an “older “ employee from an obviously younger boss, perhaps you need to view it from that older worker viewpoint. I am just stating this as something to consider prior to having that important conversation.
    From the article, it was stated that employee had been there 30 years which means that they started job at age 45, in 1988 which was the era more women entered the work field because of economic necessity than just as something to pass the time for spare change. Which brings up a question about her personal life situation which after 30 years working same job would be part of personal file, even if just as emergency contacts. She may be the sole earner of her income also and women make only 73% income level than a man. If she hadn’t worked prior to starting in 1988, she may not have a high enough Social Security benefit to support herself. Obviously she enjoys the job and it is not physically demanding on her.
    If the only thing is her lack of technology skills, a conversation offering training to upgrade her skills can be a step in the right direction. A temp can be hired to instruct her or take on some job responsibilities while she adjusts to using the technology. (Yes you can train an old dog new tricks). Perhaps one of the younger employees in place could show her the ropes of technology that all of a sudden have become a necessity at this job.
    I fail to see how something like technology training wasn’t introduced to her already in the 30 years of working at position. Didn’t computers get their start in the 1980’s and most offices by 2000 have been using them in place of typewriters. I am not quite as old as this woman but I have been using a computer since the 1990’s. Most workplaces use computers with preset programs for job related activities and all it takes is an explanation and walk through to use, even for someone who “works “the phones as receptionist.
    Easing this woman out of the job is not the way to go.

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