Discussions and support

  • Workplace discussions are extremely valuable. Having open and honest discussions with staff can assist managers plan more effectively for the future and, where appropriate, can help facilitate the transition from work to retirement for both the individual and the department.

    Opportunities such as PDR and one-to-one’s may be a helpful place in which to discuss, with all staff members, their aims and ambitions, as well as departmental plans and staffing needs. 

    It is recommended, particularly during PDR discussions, that managers take the opportunity to ask each staff member, regardless of their age, about their career and contribution to the University, for the:

    • short term;

    • medium term;

    • long term.

    Asking open questions about future plans during any workplace discussion will help to avoid suggestions of age discrimination.  It is not necessary to ask all staff the same questions, but all the relevant issues should be explored with all staff in an open way which avoids making assumptions about age.

    During these discussions, manager's should also give all staff the opportunity, irrespective of their age, to develop and learn new skills through staff development and training initiatives.

    These discussions will help managers to assess how the staff member’s skills and abilities can be matched to the departments’ future plans.

    The following tips may help managers to hold such discussions:

    • What are your aims and plans career-wise for the short (6-12 months), medium (1-2 years) and long term (2 years+)?
    • We are offering all staff the opportunity to [be trained in the new technology/attend this course, etc.] - how do you feel about this?
    • I am asking all staff if they would like to be considered for [a career development/promotional opportunity].
    • They need to be adapted to individual circumstances - but all the relevant issues should be explored with all employees in an open way which avoids making assumptions based on age.
    • Bear in mind that some employees may not choose to discuss his/her plans openly with you.

    • Make it clear that you are not suggesting or trying to influence an employee to retire at a given time or that you expect him/her to do so;
    • Emphasise that it is helpful to understand his/her plans, even if they are not definite, in order to make sure that future staffing plans can be considered;
    • Ensure that all staff understand that any discussions will not be taken as confirmation (e.g. of retirement at a given date) of retirement;
    • If an employee indicates his/her intention to retire, you may wish to explore how the University can support them in their transition into retirement, i.e.: adjusting their working hours, reducing their duties or altering their job in some other way as a lead up to retirement;
    • It may also be appropriate to discuss succession planning options;
    • Regardless of the discussions, if there are performance concerns in relation to any staff member, these should be addressed using the University’s Policies and Procedures for managing Capability.
  • Following workplace discussions

    It is essential not to hold a staff member to what is said as part of these discussions, as they are entitled to change their mind about their plans for the future.

    It is important to ensure that careful consideration is made before making any changes that may impact on the staff member’s job role, which may have been directly or indirectly influenced by these discussions. For example, if a manager did not consider a staff member for a role within a forthcoming project, as they had indicated, within discussions, that they planned to retire in the coming year. This may be considered to be age discrimination, if this decision is unjustified.

    It is also important to make a record of these conversations and it is recommended that a copy is shared with the member of staff.

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