New initiative to help Binghamton University retirees, boomers
BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University is hoping a new human resources initiative will be a jump-start in preparing for the fast-approaching retirement of their Baby Boomer population. With the creation of a new part-time retiree services coordinator position, the University hopes it can keep retirees connected to the campus. In turn, the University is hoping former faculty and staff will remain more actively involved with the campus community.
Presently, Binghamton University has over 500 retirees extending back to the late 1990s and has already experienced the impact that a loss of valued people moving into this new phase of their life can have on the campus community. The University is also gearing up for the prospect of having nearly a third of its 2,300 current full- and part-time faculty and professional employees eligible for retirement in the not-too-distant future.
By starting this program now, Sylvia Hall, assistant vice president for human resources, is hoping that it will grow and mature before the wave of Baby Boomers begins retiring. She notes, too, that the Baby Boomers are expected to retire differently than previous generations.
“We’re hearing that the generation retiring in the next few years often aren’t interested in completely stopping their work lives,” said Hall. “Although they may no longer wish to work full-time, year-round, they might consider “episodic” employment in which they’d work on special projects or fill-in for someone for a period of weeks or months.”
According to Hall, many find they have done a fairly good job planning for the financial dimensions of retirement, but need a little help keeping their lives productive and fulfilling after the leave their positions. She is hoping the development of a part-time employment pool might help in that regard.
Serving as the new retiree services coordinator, Corinna Kruman has begun meeting retirees during their regular exit interviews held with employee benefits staff. The goal is to provide them with a face attached to the function, making follow-up more comfortable. Hall and Kruman said they want retirees to be aware of existing privileges such as discounted tickets for performances on campus, library privileges and e-mail accounts. They also may eventually offer a lunchtime speaker series, cooking classes and opportunities to volunteer or mentor younger workers. During this exchange, the University will also be able to gauge whether the retiree would have an interest in working on special tasks or ‘fill-in’ projects.
“There are many ways we can help retirees remain part of the University, honor their contributions and use their wisdom to advance others,” Hall said. “People often devote a huge portion of their lives to the University and it seems only right that we give them something back.”
Kruman’s consultations will augment sessions already offered by some departments and divisions, Hall said, and bring a consistent, human touch to the process.
“I see this as a terrific opportunity to build community,” said Hall. “The University needs to help people plan for the next phase of their lives, and perhaps a new paradigm of work or meaningful volunteerism can emerge for them along the way.”