HR Management & Compliance

My Boomers Aren’t Retiring—How Can I Keep HIPOs Engaged?

Yesterday’s Advisor offered tips for handling the difficult situation in which high potential (HIPO) employees low on the career ladder are antsy because Boomers won’t retire. Today, more tips, plus an introduction to the unique guide just for HR “Lone Rangers”—the one-person HR departments.

Here are some more tips for managing HIPO employees:

  • Increase risk and reward. This might mean giving more at-risk salary in the form of bigger bonuses or incentive pay for outstanding performance. Having more say over final take-home pay can allow HIPO employees to feel more in charge of their career outcome, even if the title isn’t changing immediately.
  • Provide development opportunities. This might include training programs, conference attendance, certification opportunities, and more. The key is to ensure that there are continual opportunities to gain new skills and grow. Look both externally and internally within the organization for ideas.
  • Give them a mentor. There are people in the organization who can help these employees learn, grow, and better understand the organization as a whole. Be sure to choose the mentor wisely—he or she should be a good match on an individual level, not just chosen at random. This can be difficult to implement, but it pays off when done well.
  • Keep a performance review schedule. Even in organizations with a performance management system firmly embedded, it’s easy to let employee performance reviews take a back seat. Don’t let that happen. Especially for HIPO employees, getting feedback on performance can be invaluable when it comes to staying motivated. Performance management can include discussions about career progression and development as well, as we noted above.
  • Ensure the HIPO employees’ supervisors are on-board with these efforts. Many of the above programs will fall apart without the active management by the direct supervisor of the HIPO employee. Work with your supervisors on all of these steps to ensure everyone is on the same page. If necessary, move HIPO employees outside of the standard organizational system and allow them to report to someone else in the organization when doing so makes sense for that individual.

The key to all of this is showing HIPO employees how much they matter to the organization. By following some of the above strategies, employers can make a big impact and reduce the likelihood of turnover amongst HIPO employees, even without fast career progression.

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One HIPO Employee Caveat

In all aspects of your HIPO employee program, from choosing the employees to designate as HIPO employees  to doling out plum opportunities, keep in mind your diversity goals and your antidiscrimination programs. HIPO status is high profile and eagerly sought.

High potentials and advancement opportunities—just one of the many challenges HR managers face. From hiring to firing, HR’s never easy, and in a small department, it’s just that much tougher.

BLR’s Managing an HR Department of One is unique in addressing the special pressures small HR departments face. Here are some of its features:

  • Explanation of how HR supports organizational goals. This section explains how to probe for what your top management really wants and how to build credibility in your ability to deliver it.
  • Overview of compliance responsibilities through a really useful, 2-page chart of 23 separate laws that HR needs to comply with. These range from the well-known Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and new healthcare reform legislation, to lesser-known but equally critical rules, such as Executive Order 11246. Also included are examples of federal and state posting requirements. (Proper postings are among the first things a visiting inspector looks for—especially now that the minimum wage has been repeatedly changing.)

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  • Training guidelines. No matter the size of your company, expect to conduct training. Some of it is required by law; some of it just makes good business sense. Managing an HR Department of One walks you through how to train efficiently and effectively with a minimum of time and money.
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3 thoughts on “My Boomers Aren’t Retiring—How Can I Keep HIPOs Engaged?”

  1. Some of these tips might work; however, a recent Workopolis study shows that employees are staying in their current jobs for increasingly shorter lengths of time. It also showed that the old adage is very true, “People don’t leave companies, they leave poor bosses”, yet none of your suggestions addresses this issue.

  2. Speaking as one of the tail end Boomers, the title and first paragraph of the article would seem offensive to many Boomers. In this tough economy, where many Boomers lost their security as much as anyone else, a lot of them are forced to delay retirement because they can’t afford to retire. Some are afraid to change because of the prevalence of age discrimination in the workforce, something which is difficult to prove. And trust me, many understand the plight of the younger generation, whether they want to believe it or not. It’s not that Boomers don’t want to retire, they can’t.

    A suggestion here. Perhaps, in terms of the mentor, put a Boomer in the role. Yes, make sure the match is a good one, but the HIPO can learn a lot from the older one and the older one can learn from the younger. Best of all, they both can learn to appreciate each other and you have the makings of a good collaborative team.

    The idea is stop making enemies of the generations, but to aid them in working together, making use of the differences, the experience and the fresh outlook. If you do this, the company will benefit greatly.

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