Learning from those who came before us…

A couple of days ago I wrote a post on respecting our elders. Since then I have been thinking about how we could change what we do to encourage and benefit from elder participation. Many companies have adviser positions where a board member or subject matter expert gives the company a few hours a week. This is not a bad thing but it fosters a sense of detachment that doesn’t help either side of the equation.

In order to change the way we do things I think it would be a good idea for the governments of Canada to promote elder participation. If the government were to put a program in place where companies could get a tax break or subsidy for hiring elders that might be a good first step. The company benefits from the experience that the elder brings to the team and the government benefits from the extra income and associated taxes generated by keeping the elder in the work force.

Many elders like the idea of retirement so in order to encourage them to continue to give back, there might have to be special provisions for extended vacations or rewards for achieving goals set by the governing bodies. Elders would have to feel respected for their contributions and I believe that those contributions would have to be real. I’m not suggesting that companies would hire just anyone off the street, the people would have to have appropriate qualifications or be part of a re-training program that has achievable goals.

Elders have to feel wanted and needed in order to come out of retirement. Another option that works in some fields is job sharing. If you find the right people, I have seen work sharing programs work very well. For software companies, Scrums and sprint planning sessions could be planned around the availability of individuals. It is unlikely that both elders would have the exact same skill set so they would have to be treated as separate part time resources.

I can’t imagine getting up each day without something meaningful to do and I imagine that there are lots of other people like me out there. I started a new job three weeks ago and after getting past the initial “drinking from the fire hose” stage, I surprised myself with how much I had learned and have been able to apply in that period. It’s refreshing to have a clear achievable goal.

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