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Plastic Industry Forum - Converse with Plastics Processing Leaders / Business / Mentoring Cuts Both Ways in the Workplace
Posted:  09 Dec 2015 18:25
For a variety of reasons, including the advancement of technology at the speed of light, the stability of the workforce has been dramatically impacted. Additionally, the inability or unwillingness of the Baby Boomer Generation to retire as early as they had in the past has created frustration and uncertainty among the new generation of employees when they consider their ability to advance within a company.

In an effort to address the desire of some companies to open up opportunities for advancement, they have considered and at times implemented voluntary employment retirement plans or equivalent incentives. However, there are risks attendant to instituting these programs. First, with the more senior generation of employees living longer with potentially inadequate savings, a more expensive incentive for them to seriously consider retirement is required. Additionally, there are typically individuals within the more senior group whose departure will be disadvantageous to maintaining effective ongoing operations.  These senior employees retain substantial institutional knowledge and have unique experience as a consequence of the positions they have held in the company. As a counter-balance, the company is also faced with the challenge of addressing those senior employees who remain inflexible despite the necessity to address the dynamics of the emerging workforce. To remain successful companies must adjust to their current market.

While many employers have established formal mentoring systems, an informal process has existed in almost every work environment. However, it is important to clearly recognize that mentoring is a two-way process. If a more senior mentor sincerely desires to develop the company’s rising stars of the future, they must learn what motivates them and communicate accordingly. At times, it appears that the emerging generation is less patient. They also seem to be less concerned with job security and are interested in focusing on the quality of the work experience. Consequently, if opportunities for job growth and upward mobility are seen as remote, they are more than willing to move onto another employer. Nevertheless, this must be counter-balanced by the emerging employees’ need to obtain critical institutional knowledge of the company, as well as guidance from a mentor whose knowledge based upon years of experience is invaluable.

Based on the concepts discussed above, a coordinated approach to addressing voluntary retirement issues in conjunction with a two-way hybrid mentoring process entailing formality and informality can result in a win-win proposition for employers.

For more information, contact Robert Weisman or any member of Ice Miller’s Labor, Employment and Immigration Group.

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