MUMBAI: While cutting a cake at her workplace to celebrate her 52nd birthday, Puja Shah (name changed), a VP at a business consultancy, momentarily shuddered — she would retire in six years and was anxious about issues relating to financial planning and health.
India’s demography is skewed towards the youth — by 2020, one third of its population will be aged 15-34 years. According to Census 2011, only 7% of India’s population of more than 121 crore fell in the band of 50-59 years.
Consequentially, HR policies of India Inc are largely veered towards recruiting, training and retaining millennials. The needs of employees nearing retirement often fall between the cracks.
Additionally, India has a low retirement age that varies between 58 and 60 years. The US, for instance, doesn’t have a prescribed retirement age, though a significant chunk retire around 65 years.
Some companies in India are stepping in to lend a helping hand to employees nearing retirement by organising workshops, continuing with the medical insurance policy for certain categories and keeping in touch after retirement via annual functions.
Bobby Kuriakose, HR director at Forbes Marshall, said, “We realise that retirement can be a very emotional time. At the beginning of each calendar year, we arrange a special programme called ‘Second Innings’.
Those due to retire in the next financial year are invited to this programme with their spouses. This full-day programme has sessions conducted by experts on financial planning, healthcare, dietary habits and yoga therapy.” Prince Augustin, EVP (group human capital and leadership development) at Mahindra & Mahindra, said, “While workshops are held by several group companies, Tech Mahindra has a specific programme called ‘The Employee Assistance Programme’.
Via an online confidential counselling process, the concerned employee is guided by a life coach or an expert on careers after retirement, financial planning, et al.”
Ramesh Shankar, EVP and HR head at Siemens India, adds, “In the year of retirement, external financial experts conduct workshops to enable employees to understand their past spending and investment pattern, take stock of the current, and plan for the future.
These workshops are conducted once every six months. Health workshops are run by company affiliated doctors, who are broadly aware of an employee’s concerns and needs. These educational workshops help them adopt a fitter lifestyle.
At times, needs are also geographically centric — such as a higher incidence of diabetes in Delhi or obesity in Mumbai — and the workshops help these employee groups to deal with such problems.”
Cos focus on health issues of retiring staff
At ITC, one or two years prior to retirement, the employee and his or her spouse are nominated for a dedicated weeklong programme.
In addition to covering financial topics, spiritual development, personal medical issues and advice for transition management between pre-retirement and post-retirement life are also dealt with. For those harbouring fears about life after retirement or how to utilise their time, help is on hand.
Shankar explains, “Counselling — whether face-to-face, online or over the phone — is available for all employees. The counsellors also help employees nearing retirement to tide over their concerns.” At Forbes Marshall, NGOs are also invited to advise employees nearing retirement on social activities that they can be involved in after they leave the company. Kuriakose says, “The management team and their immediate managers also interact with them informally.”
To help employees nearing retirement, there is a greater focus on health issues. At Siemens, those over 50 can avail of an annual medical check-up, which is less frequent for those below this age band. Shankar says, “Company affiliated doctors then step in for intervention as may be required. Medical records are maintained, monitored and suitable interventions planned based on the analysis.”
Retired employees of Forbes Marshall and their spouses can continue to avail of the free medical facility in the company’s 30-bed hospital.
At Siemens, for employees in the management category, the medical insurance for self and spouse continues even after retirement, albeit with a cap of Rs 5 lakh, with premium for any top-up borne by the retired employee.
Companies also stay in touch with their retired employees via invites to corporate events. A portal ‘Mahindra Remembers’ helps employees of certain group companies to be connected with ongoing corporate developments.
RPG Enterprises president (group HR) S Venkatesh says, “A cocktail and dinner programme is held annually in Mumbai for retired employees (vice-president level and above), which is presided over by group chairman Harsh Goenka. This helps bring former employees together.”