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MITRE Flex Options for Mature Workers

Prof/Sci/Tech services
Medium (5,000-19,999)
Non-profit
Multi-national
  Recruitment, Retiring and retirement, Workplace flexibility
Phased Retirement and Part-time On-call Program (Reserve Program for Retirees): Flexible work options for MITRE’s mature workers.
2012

MITRE Flex Options for Mature Workers

2012

Industry: Professional/Science/Technology
Profit Status:
Nonprofit
Region:
Multi-national
Workforce Size:
7,000 employees

  Recruitment, Retiring and retirement, Workplace flexibility

The business drivers for included:

  1. Aging of MITRE’s workforce.  With more than 70% of their workforce over 40 years of age, MITRE wanted to leverage the talents of its multigenerational workforce.
  2. Knowledge transfer.  MITRE wanted to address threats of knowledge loss that could occur as employees retire.
  3. Retention.  There has been an increase in employee turnover due to the allure of dot.com companies.  Furthermore, the firm had increasing needs for experienced information technology specialists.
  4. Employee engagement.  Surveys indicated decreases in employment satisfaction and engagement. A business spin-off appeared to have had a negative impact on levels of employee trust.
  5. Employee preferences for flexibility.  Employees requested greater flexibility.

Goals  & Objectives

  • Reduce employee turnover and increase retention of experienced workers by implementing creative flexibility strategies.
  • Develop a work culture that is more people-focused.
  • Share and transfer knowledge.

Project Highlights

Key features of the program include:

  1. Phased Retirement: Phased retirement is one of the many flexibility options available for mature workers.  Phased retirement enables employees to slowly transition to retirement, while having access to some of the retirement program benefits.  Employees can transition into retirement and/or back into full-time employment through the Phased Retirement plan.  
  2. Part-Time on Call Program (Reserve Program for Retirees): Retirees who participate in the Part-Time on Call Program provide short-term project support for complex and highly specialized projects.  These mature workers are then available to mentor younger employees, share their technical expertise, and provide in-depth knowledge of government agencies.

The outcomes and impact of the MITRE Flexible Work Options for Mature Workers include:

  • Turnover rates have decreased from 12% to between 3-5%.
  • MITRE has shifted Phased Retirement from a program that was a separate benefit with a specific contribution plan to an option that is part of the culture of the company. 
  • MITRE moved the Part-time On-call Program  (originally called ‘Reserves on the Ready’) away from being a program just for retirees.  Currently, all employees have the option of joining the program, regardless of age or retirement plan.
  • The Human Resources department developed supportive services for its management team to help implement the new work options. 

Editor’s Note: The Sloan Center on Aging & Work recognizes that age is a multi-faceted concept. For a discussion of the aging experience, see our issue brief, Through a Different Looking Glass: The Prism of Age.  The innovative practices adopted by employers might address one or more than one of the different aspects of age.

The lessons learned include:

  • Every employee benefits from a work environment that is focused on people.  MITRE shifted its focus and acknowledged that their retention rates and satisfaction rates from employees were not ideal.
  • Employees have different strengths at different stages of their careers.  It is important to develop programming that promotes these strengths.
  • Employees need options.  Flexibility from HR, senior management, and management are important to make customized work plans productive for both the company and the employee.
  • Managers need support during the initial implementation stages. It was important to help leadership teams cope with changes that accompanied the implementation of the flexible work programs, such as the need to trust employees and develop some new management practices.

MITRE anticipates that the next steps of the Flexible Work Options for Mature Workers program will include:

  • Learning how to use company space efficiently to accommodate the space needs of those who are either in the Phased Retirement Program or the Part-Time on Call Program
  • Learning how employees can be more agile and mobile.
  • Incorporating social media and collaboration into workers’ flexible work arrangement plan.
  • Further developing the concept of flexibility and how work gets done, so that flexible work options are seen as being relevant to a range of different of work-related issues.

MITRE has been selected as an employer of choice in several publications, including Fortune magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for.”  MITRE ranked 3rd in its support of work and life balance.  In addition, employee input ranked MITRE 2nd for work/life balance on Glassdoor.com.

For additional information, contact The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College: age.work@bc.edu


In addition to MITRE, we would like to thank Abbott, AstraZeneca, Central Baptist Hospital, CVS Caremark, Marriott, and Wells Fargo for their sponsorship of this entry.

Copyright ©2012 Boston College The Sloan Center on Aging & Work

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