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A Couple of Questions…

My friend Magi is doing an article analysis for her MBA Leadership & Motivation class. She is collecting different real life opinions that she can use to help develop her analysis. Since she works in the private sector, she asked if I could find some folks in the public sector. The analysis is a bulleted ‘list’ more or less. If you’re interested in helping out, here are her questions:

“What are some real-life motivation techniques that can be used, or that are being used in today’s aging workforce?”

“How can the advance of technology change the impacts of adult development in the workplace?”

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I’m probably not the expert here but I have a couple thoughts:

1 – Find what the aging workforce wants. I think a lot want to switch to some sort of part-time (3/4, 1/2 time). I think they want to give back and share their wisdom so finding mechanism to give back (like teaching courses).

2 – Technology can make it easier for people to telework and gradually shift from 100% in office to having a retired worker work 2 days a week remotely from Florida. Technology also makes it easier to share lessons learned in forms of wikis, videos, etc.

Scott Hielen

Up until recently, we were worried about the rapid depletion of the workforce as the boomers start to retire in droves. Might be too early to tell, but seems like the recent slump in the markets may slow the departure of a lot of those who may have been left financially stranded. So, agree that it would be a boon to transition those folks to part-time status to (1) maintain a connection to their corporate knowledge and (2) provide them the opportunity to supplement a smaller retirement check. After so many years of private or public service, an institutionalized mentoring program might be a good thing.

On technology, GSA already has some telework centers set up around the DC Metro area, which could help keep older workers closer to home. Temp telework centers could be set up anywhere to support special projects or accommodate busy periods like end of FY where a pool of semi-retirees could be pressed into service.

Tom Vannoy

“What are some real-life motivation techniques that can be used, or that are being used in today’s aging workforce?”

We need to tap into everyone’s source of motivation and realize that it is unique for each individual. Try and take the time to get to know each person on a personal level, presuming they are comfortable with that, so you can identify ways to motivate them as an individual. Worse case, straight out asking them will work as well. Personally, I try and bring information I am exposed to in my training back to the workplace and share it with everyone on my team. I try to make sure the information I bring back will help not only at work but also in their personal lives. I feel that if you can enrich someone’s live not only at work, but also at home, it makes for a healthier work environment and a healthier home environment. For those approaching retirement I plan on asking them to present their views on the history of our organization to my team so we can learn from the past. There is no one better to help us frame where we have come from so we can picture where we want to go.

“How can the advance of technology change the impacts of adult development in the workplace?”

Email has had a positive impact that is well documented, however I also think it has negatively impacted relationship building that is vitally important for the vibrancy of an organization. Without good relationships, it is extremely difficult to sustain a level of performance and teamwork that will enable you to push an organization to the next level of effectiveness. Email has made it too easy to fire off a missive to someone without realizing the potentially negative impact and relationships suffer. In my mind, this all coincides with development because you get a lot of opportunities based on the relationships you have with others. And those opportunities help you develop as a manager and leader.

Techology will definitely help us alleviate the commuting problems as more and more people work from home. My personal hope is that video via webcams becomes widespread in the workplace so people can see one another while they work – Apple is an example of a company that does a great job of utilizing this feature, even for people not working from home. Unfortunately, the evil(good) necessity of maintaining security in this day and age limits our ability at times to adopt some of the best technological tool sets to maximize our productivity. Once we figure out how to satisfy our security needs in this day and age of lost laptops we will be able to take full advantage of technology and then – watch out! I think adult development will change as this occurs and I think we will be more productive as a result. I suspect we will have more productivity because people will be able (and willing) to work longer because they can do it from home, stay connected to the people they work with by seeing them (extroverts will be happy), and they can do all of this and more while working from home and avoiding the horrific commutes we have.

Tom Vannoy

And I forgot to add – asking members of the ‘aging workforce’ to initially populate a wiki is a great way to get them involved in recording their institutional knowledge.

Teri Centner

The comments on part-time options reminded me of an option I learned of a few years ago. When I worked at Los Angeles AFB, much of our supporting “brain power” came from scientists and engineers at the Aerospace Corporation. Many of them were one-of-a-kind specialists who had experience dating back to the Apollo missions. Realizing how valuable their knowledge was, the corporation offered their retired personnel the opportunity to work on what was called “Casual Status.” I think that meant no more than 16 hours a week, but it was great to know that some of the expertise was still available on a part-time basis!

I found an article online that gives more information about how the program works… http://www.gov.pe.ca/photos/original/ow_innovation.pdf