The Rules for Hugging at Work Post-Pandemic

Okay, I’ve been known as the guy who likes to hug, and I’m not sure why I have this designation but it might be because of this post here. Also, I tend to like hugs! And, I might have hugged a bunch of folks to kick off my speaking engagements demonstrating the Official Office Hugging Rules!

My mate (that’s what English male friends call each other) Chris Bailey (who is a world-class hugger in his own right) and I were messaging back and forth the other day on WhatsApp (Editor note: Tim has to tell you he was messaging on WhatsApp so he seems cool and worldly) and he said, “Mate, you need to write the rules for Hugging at Work after Covid”. He’s right, it’s time.

The key to great rules is you get them out before people start making up their own rules. Since organizations are just not figuring out return-to-work strategies, and a bunch of people are getting their Covid Juice (vaccines), the world, or at least Chris Bailey, is clamoring for how can we start hugging again!

The Rules for Hugging at Work, Post-Pandemic

1. Read the Original Rules of Hugging at Work, they still apply, but we needed some additions.

2. If both parties are Vaxed you are free to party! Hug away! Hug me like you missed me! Hug me so hard it might start an HR investigation! But only hugging, Sparky, don’t get too excited!

3. If one party is Vaxed and one party is stupid (err., not vaxed), Hug that moron if you want. Now, if you are vaxed and the non-vaxed person is wearing a mask, well that probably just helps knock down that coffee breath.

4. If you are not vaxed and the other party is not vaxed, please not only hug, but lick each other. The world is built around natural selection and there is nothing more exciting than watching natural selection take place in the wilds of the office!

5. Understand coming back into the office, Post-Pandemic, the world has changed a bit. Everyone is a bit on edge. There’s a good chance you hugging someone at work will get you fired. So, my recommendation is to hug anyway, no one wants to work in a world where “Karen’s” rule the world!

6. Don’t hug someone who is trying to give you an elbow bump. That person is weird.

7. Don’t hug someone who says, “It’s just a little bit of allergies” as they are hacking up a lung. Also, if you’re sick, have enough self-insight to let folks know so they don’t come in for a snuggle!

8. If it looks like someone needs a hug, ask them, and if they don’t say “No”, most likely they need a hug! The world has been an especially hard place the past year or so. A lot of folks need a hug!

9. Some of your folks are remote and they need a hug. Great leaders, in a new world of remote, hybrid, and on-premise, will travel and deliver hugs. It might be the single most important thing you do as a leader all year. Hug delivery.

10. Hug with DEI in mind! Have you hugged a person of color today? What about one of your Transgender co-workers or peers? What about someone of the same sex? If you only hug the opposite sex of the same color you are, you might want to ask yourself why is that? I’m an equal opportunity hugger! Come get some!

11. No group hugs. Let’s stay civilized, people! It’s a special kind of crazy the person who initiates a group hug. In HR we use “group hug” as profiling the truly psycho employees we have working for us! “Come on guys! Let’s all do a big group hug!” – Um, No!, Trevor!

Cancel Culture Can’t Cancel Hugs!

I did a survey recently and it turns out 89% of people want a hug, and the 11% who don’t like hugs, also hate puppies (this is my own survey, don’t @ me!). Here’s the thing, as we get back to work and see folks we haven’t seen in a while there will be emotion! We missed a lot of these assholes! Enough that we will want to give them a hug!

Also, if you have folks working hybrid that you don’t get to see as much, when you do see them you will want to do more than a cold handshake or fist bump. The world needs one big giant hug, and we certainly have some co-workers who need more than a few hugs!

Hugs don’t need to be canceled. Hugs are great! What needs to be canceled are creepy dudes who hug inappropriately and make the people they hug feel uncomfortable. Fix that problem! Leave hugs alone!

Covid made us fat, lazy, and depressed! How do we turn that around?

My go-to answer for most things is, Cocaine. I’m sure if I did Cocaine I would be less fat, less lazy, which would lead to me being less depressed. Most likely, this is flawed thinking, but I never have tested it to know for sure.

A brand new study on the effects of Covid on our mental well being was just released and to no one’s surprise, it’s not a rosy picture:

What does this tell us? 

  1. We are moving way less than we did pre-Covid.
  2. We are sleeping more.
  3. We are getting up later.

Also, in the study, depression has increased by over 90% in the past year! That is massive, and while we love the flexibility of remote work, we are also craving the need for personal contact and normalcy. Humans are pack animals by genetics. We don’t thrive in cages (like being locked in our homes).

By the way (from the picture at the top), who are these people who don’t wake up until 10 am!? And even more puzzling, pre-covid, who are these monsters who didn’t get up until 8:30 am!? Surely, I gest. But, only for free of being canceled by some new pro-sleeping, don’t judge us movement.

How can we turn this around? 

I was raised by Baby Boomers who weren’t all too keen on schedules and the importance of a consistent schedule on mental and physical wellbeing. They just grew up during a different time in our world where you just kind of went with the flow. Yes, hippies, kind of.

My wife, bless her soul, rescued me and trained me to understand how having consistency in your life leads to a less stressful life. Less stress leads to less depression. Turns out, we as humans, actually do really well when we know the parameters of our world. We actually like being put in a box. It’s warm and cozy. We perform better. Covid took us out of our boxes, out of our schedules, out of our routines.

And like a flower without water and sunlight, many of us wilted. We stopped moving. we started putting on weight, we started sleeping more, and we became depressed.

We love the newfound flexibility, but we want some semblance of our lives back. Getting up, going to work, hitting the gym, etc. We need to turn these negative trends in our health, physically and mentally, back in the right direction. Even if you stay remote or hybrid, really work to build a more permanent, more healthy schedule into your day.

Part of building that new schedule is an understanding that we aren’t living a temporary life. We all have this belief that once Covid is over, we’ll be back to normal and then I’ll start getting healthy again, but our reality is we aren’t getting back to the old normal. For most of us, we’ll have a new normal, and we need to adjust to that new normal now.

It starts with moving more. Spring is a great time to start!

The Weekly Dose: @OurTilt – Leave that doesn’t suck!

This week on the Weekly Dose I take a look at the startup employee leave technology Tilt. Tilt is reimagining Leave Management to help companies improve retention, streamline processes and reinforce corporate culture.

Let’s face it, most organizations use an Excel Spreadsheet to track company employee leave. No judgment! The vast majority of organizations have tracked leave this way since the invention of Excel! Before that, it was written files. But, now, thanks to Tilt there is a more elegant way to administer employee leave that helps all the stakeholders.

You might be thinking, “do we really have a problem tracking leave?” Maybe not, but leave is more than just HR tracking it. You also have the employee who is on leave, and the manager of the employee who is on leave, who often feel in the dark the entire process.

What I like about Tilt:

– One easy platform to streamline all of your employees leaves into one place where all parties can log in the get the information they need. Super easy to add an employee to leave, and each employee has their own access to track and get answers they need while on leave.

– Fully compliant, in every state, so a perfect solution for those organizations that are multiple states and find it hard to keep up on changing legislation. Tilt helps ensure you stay in compliance and don’t’ find yourself in legal hot water.

– Tilt guides help employees and managers through the process, lowering the amount of time and questions leave administrators have to deal with on an ongoing basis. Also, integrates auto-nudges to ensure both employees and managers do what they need to do, when they need to do!

– Direct communication from employees, managers, and leave administrators that are logged within the platform to ensure all communication is tracked and documented. Plus, great, ongoing manager education around the do’s and don’ts in having an employee on leave.

– Tilt works with every client to review and update leave policies and plans, to ensure your leave plans are built on what’s best for your organization and your culture.

I really like what Tilt is doing. Organizations big and small struggle to administer leave in a really easy way and most of the time all the company leave knowledge is usually stuck in one person’s brain. Also, administering leave is a complicated job, the more employees who have on leave, and the more states you must administer it in.

Pre-leave, leave, and post-leave, you, your employees, and your managers will have the information they need when they need it. All the while the tech helps you stay compliant, saving you time and money. Well worth a demo, especially for those companies managing leave in multiple states.

How Many of Your Employees Are Going to Get the Covid Vaccine?

I’m sure you’ve been seeing the headlines, across America we continue to hear about front-line workers, healthcare workers who are refusing to get the Covid vaccine. In Ohio, it’s estimated that 60% of nursing home workers declined to get the vaccine!

I want to believe that those choosing not to get the vaccine when they could get that vaccine are just ignorant and natural selection will take its course. But, not even 100% of hospital workers, nurses, and doctors on Covid units are getting the vaccine they are eligible to get!

So, we know that when it comes time that we can help our own employees get the vaccine, not all will want it. This will cause a bunch of issues in organizations that we haven’t even come close to really knowing, yet.

Can you fire an employee who refuses to get a Covid Vaccine? 

Short answer? Yes. The longer answer depends on a number of factors. Do they have a legitimate religious exemption, not one they’ve conveniently made up in the past day or so? Do they have a document medical issue? Etc.

The reality is employers have a lot of ground to stand on when forcing employees to get a vaccine or lose their job. Getting the vaccine becomes a workplace safety issue and the government and the courts have shown a willingness to back these protections.

The more important question is, do you as an employer want to force employees to get the vaccine, or is there a better way to get the same result? This is really a company by company decision.

What are some ways to get employees to want to take the vaccine? 

Let’s face it, the vast majority of most employees, at most employers, will actually want to get the vaccine and get back to life as “normal” before the pandemic. So, anything you roll out to entice your employees to get the vaccine will be a bonus most probably didn’t need. That being said, here’s what I’ve been hearing some employers are doing:

  • Cash bonus to get the vaccine. $100 if you get the vaccine in a certain time period once it’s available.
  • Extra time off.
  • Extra flexibility around their schedule.
  • Making it super convenient, like offering vaccines onsite at the workplace.

It’s basically the carrot or the stick. Most likely, organizations will have to use both to get to the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reality is, based on data, you don’t actually have to have 100% of employees get vaccinated to make your workplace safe.

I think it’s important to remember that factor. You really don’t need 100%. As organizations do we really want to fight that battle with someone who just refuses, yet, they are a good, solid employee? I don’t think it will be worth it in the long run.

The one thing you might try is drafting an agreement for those who refuse which would state, they are refusing to get the vaccine and I would try and add in some language that gives you the right as an employer to be able to let other employees know who are those employees are aren’t vaccinated from a workplace safety issue, so other employees know who they need to continue to social distance from. Is this ideal? Heck no! There are HIPAA issues, among others. But, this is about how do we keep the majority of our employees safe.

Now, before drafting some agreement like that up on your own, get your legal counsel involved. They’ll balk at first, but with some pushing, they can put something together that will protect the organization from any legal blowback.

Again, you have to weigh the outcome of doing something like this. Those employees who refuse the vaccine, sign your agreement, and you make that public among your employees is now wearing a scarlet letter around. That isn’t good either, from a cultural standpoint.

This is why HR is so much fun! We don’t live in black and white, we live in the gray. There isn’t one perfect answer to the question. Of course, the best-case scenario is every single one of your employees wants the vaccine and gets the vaccine. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening with too many organizations.

Your Superpower is Your Authentic Self!

I had someone ask me what my superpower is? I found that a hard question to answer. I mean do you think being able to write a 500-word blog post in 15 minutes a superpower!? Some bloggers probably do, but no one else!

I was told that my true superpower was me just being me. My authentic self. Then I asked this person how much I owed them for the life coaching session! 😉

We are told constantly to be ourselves, or live our true life, find a way to be yourself, etc. The reality is being your authentic self might be your superpower, but like all superpowers, they can be used for good or evil.

Let me give you the best example ever! Donald Trump is his authentic self. It’s his superpower and he rode that superpower right into the White House. His authentic self was a superpower he used for evil, and ultimately it destroyed him and his legacy.

What I find a leader of people is that employees living their authentic self either works wonderfully or awfully and rarely anywhere in between!

Here’s the thing about being your authentic self, you must first know if your “authentic self” something others want to be around or if your authentic self off-putting to others. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but if your authentic self is a complete asshole, you might want to work for yourself and not someone else!

Let be really frank here, any gender can be an off-putting authentic self. It doesn’t mean you don’t love who you truly are, but you must also realize who you truly are isn’t what most people want to be around. Your superpower isn’t going to be asked to join the Justice League, you’re going to be asked to join the villain side.

In real life, you actually don’t become a villain, unless you’re DJT. Most likely you become your own boss, or you live a miserable existence trying to fit into a work world that doesn’t want you and you don’t want it. Some of the best and brightest people I know can’t work for others. Their superpower is something that allows them to be awesome, but not when working closely with others on a daily basis.

Why does this matter? 

It matters because if some idiot is trying to sell you the snake oil of “Just be your Authentic Self” you must first determine, is your authentic self something others will embrace and want to be around. If so, great, you’re going to probably have a great career. If it’s not, and you want to work in the corporate world, you’re probably in for a lot of therapy.

Also, let me be very clear, not living your authentic self while you are at work isn’t the worse thing in the world. You can be one thing at work and another thing in your personal life. Is it ideal? No. But, I’ve seen many people in my career be successful in doing this. It’s a little like Clark Kent and Superman. I can be Clark Kent at work and then go home and be Superman in the rest of my life.

The worse thing that can happen is you try and force your authentic self onto others and believe they should “accept” your authentic self. Nope. That’s not how it works. You can’t make anyone accept your authentic self, you can only make yourself accept that. If I don’t like your superpower, you can’t make me like it, and if I’m in a position to determine the trajectory of your career, you’re in trouble.

Superpowers are awesome, but they can be super for good or super for bad. Love who you are, but don’t expect others will necessarily love it.

Leadershipping on Christmas

First, it’s Christmas and the majority of the world is not working. Okay, you Mr./Mrs. Hustle is still working, but normal people, those who celebrate Christmas and those who don’t, and primarily not working, so why are you reading this dumb blog post!

But, while I have you…

I think great leaders do certain things really well (also, I’m not trying to set myself up as a great leader, I’m not, but man I’m trying to be better):

  • They let people know you care about them when they least expect it, but probably need it the most.
  • They have the ability to come across as sincere because they are and probably are very particular in letting people know.
  • They have the ability to make others feel special in the best ways.

Now, don’t go off and start sending messages to everyone on your team!

Do go send a message or two to a few people who need it. Who made a difference to you this year, or to that someone who just needs it today.

The holidays can be the best time of year and the worse time of year depending on your circumstances. You might not actually be having a great day, today. But, I bet sending a note of gratitude and thanks to someone else, will definitely lift your spirits and theirs.

Happy Holidays, Friends!

The 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate A$$holes!

I wrote a post a while back titled, “The 5 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Developing Employees“. In that post I had a paragraph:

When I was young in my career, I was very ‘passionate’. That’s what I liked calling it – passionate.  I think the leaders I worked with called it, “career derailer”.  It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength, was really a major weakness.  Some people never will gain this insight.  They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate when in reality they’re really just an asshole.

I then had a reader send me a message and basically said, “This is me!” And I was like, “That was me too!” And then we kissed. Okay, we didn’t kiss, but it’s great to find another like yourself in the wild!

The reality is, I’m a recovering Passionate Asshole.

What’s a “Passionate Asshole” who are asking yourself? Here’s my definition. A passionate asshole is a person who feels like they are more about the success of the company than anyone else. I mean everyone else. They care more than everyone! And because we care so much, we treat people poorly who we feel don’t care as much as us!

Passionate assholes truly believe in every part of their being they’re great employees. You will not be able to tell us any differently. They are usually high performing in their jobs, which also justifies even more that they care more. But, in all of this, they leave a wake of bad feelings and come across like your everyday basic asshole.

You know at least one of these people. They’re usually younger in the 24-35-year-old range. Too early in their career to have had some major setbacks and they have high confidence in their abilities.

Here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate Assholes:

Step 1: Realization that you’re an Asshole, not the best employee ever hired in the history of the universe. This realization doesn’t actually fix the passionate asshole, but without it, you have no chance.

Step 2: You understand that while being a passionate asshole feels great, this isn’t going to further your career and get you to your ultimate goal.

Step 3: Professionally they have to be knocked down in a major way. I was fired. Not because I was doing the job, but because I was leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in the path of doing my job. You don’t have to be fired, demotion might also work, but usually, it’s getting canned that will do the trick.

Step 4: Someone you truly respect needs to tell you that you’re not a good employee, but an asshole, during a time you’ll actually listen.

Step 5: Find a leader and organization that will embrace you for who you’re trying to become, knowing who you truly are. You don’t go from Passionate Asshole to model employee overnight! It’s not a light switch.

Step 6: Time. This is a progression. You begin to realize some of your passionate asshole triggers. You begin to use your powers for good and not to blow people up who you feel aren’t worthy of oxygen. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Step 7: You stop making bad career moves based on the passionate asshole beast inside of you, telling you moving to the ‘next’ role is really the solution to what you’re feeling.

Step 8: We make a list of people we’ve destroyed while being passionate assholes. Yes, even the people you don’t like!

Step 9: Reach out to the people you’ve destroyed and make amends. Many of these people have ended up being my best professional contacts now late in life. Turns out, adults are actually pretty good a forgiving and want to establish relationships with people who are honest and have self-insight.

Step 10: We are able to tell people we’re sorry for being a passionate asshole when find ourselves being a passionate asshole, and not also seeing the passion within them and what they also bring to the organization is a value to not only us but to the organization as a whole.

Step 11: You begin to reflect, instead of reacting as a first response. Passionate assholes love to react quickly! We’re passionate, we’re ready at all times, so our initial thought is not to think, but to react decisively. You’ve reached step 11 when your first thought is to no longer react like a crazy person!

Step 12: You begin to reach out to other passionate assholes and help them realize how they’re destroying their careers and don’t even know it. You begin mentoring.

I know I’ll never stop being a Passionate Asshole. It’s a personality flaw, and even when you change, you never fully change. But, I now understand when I’m being that person, can usually stop myself mid-passionate asshole blow up, and realize there are better ways to communicate and act.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”? 

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think? 

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!

At what age should you retire?

We tend to believe retirement is an age thing. Well, once you turn 65, it’s time to retire! Do you know where ’65’ actually came from? Most HR pros will probably guess it, it’s when America instituted social security insurance back in 1935.

The U.S. Government, in 1935, didn’t even use any science to determine 65 years old.  At the time, the national railroad pension retirement age was 65, and about half the state pensions were the same (the other half were 70), so 65 years old was chosen. Way less red tape back in 1935! Can you imagine the government trying to make that decision today!?

So, you turn 65 and you’re supposed to retire. In 1935, that probably was fairly accurate. The actual life expectancy in 1935 was only 61! So, we built social security knowing most people would not live to receive it. Today, life expectancy is around 79 years old!  As you can imagine, 65 years old is no longer a realistic retirement age.

I’m currently 50 years old.  It’s my belief that I have about 20 years left to work and save for my retirement. I’m assuming I’ll work until I’m at least 70.  70 years old today doesn’t seem like 70 years old when I was a kid.  My parents are now in their 70’s and they don’t seem ‘old’. I mean they’re old, but not like they can’t do anything old.  Both could still easily work and produce great work if they wanted to.

All of this should change how we look at succession planning in our organizations, but we still use 65 as the ‘expiration’ date of when someone no longer seems to have value. “Oh, you know Tim, he’s going to be 65 next year, I’m amazed he can still stay awake all day!”

65 in 2020 is not the same 65 we saw in 1935!  The health and physical wellbeing of those two people are worlds apart!

Succession Planning needs to catch up with this difference.  HR needs to lead this charge.  Part of this change starts with us changing the language and numbers we use when describing retirement.  Regular retirement age needs to start at 70 years old, at a minimum, and move up from there.  We need to eliminate 65 years old from everything we write and speak.  It’s just no longer valid or accurate.

Once we push this date out, we can then start to plan much more accurately to what our organizational needs will truly be.  Next, we need to have frank conversations with those who we believe are reaching an age where they want to retire and have real conversations.  HR pros have been failing at this for years!  It’s actually not against the law to ask an employee what their retirement plan is! It should be against the law that you don’t ask this question!

If an employee knows that you are working with them to reach their goals, and you let that employee know that ‘hey, we need you for another five years’, most will actually happily stay on the additional time.  My Dad worked in a professional job until he was 72, and they wanted him longer! Don’t ever underestimate the power of being wanted. As we age, that desire to be wanted just increases!

So, I’ll ask you. At what age do you think someone should retire?