Employers lose a lot when long-time, highly skilled employees retire. Some employers are discovering that a better alternative to totally severing the relationship is to provide a way for employees who took retirement to continue their work life connections.
For instance, in 2001, Emory University in Atlanta started Emeritus College, a program to encourage retired faculty and academic administrators to stay in touch by teaching occasional classes, using the university facilities to do research, speaking on behalf of the university, and otherwise giving and getting financial and intellectual opportunities. Director Susanne Thomas calculates that Emeritus College has so far provided this mix of benefits to both groups:
- Eighty-five years' worth of paid work for faculty and staff who had previously retired from the university.
- More than 75 years of volunteer work that benefited the university, students and the community.
- More than 29 years of classroom and other instruction by retired faculty who are paid for their efforts.
- Nearly 50 years of instruction by retired faculty who agreed to share their expertise without pay.
- Ninety-nine workshops offered to students, faculty and community groups for pay.
- Sixty-eight students and young faculty members mentored free of charge.
- More than 300 academic papers published by faculty members who are in retirement.
Emeritus College has more than 550 members. It has been such a successful retirement planning program that Thomas is working with the university's human resources department to develop a similar program for nonacademic staff members.
"We see this as a place for retired faculty to come to where they can feel engaged; where they won't feel like they fell off a cliff," Thomas says.