The Intergenerational Cooperation Program provides staff members aged 50 or over (about 10 per year) with the capacity to reorganize their work time so they can identify their professional legacy through a Legacy Circle, optimize their mentoring skills through customized training, and pass on their professional experience to subsequent generations in the form they choose (personal or team project). For example, participants from the first experimental year contributed to one of the following activities: personal mentoring of young recruits, group exchanges with young recruits, drafting various documents to make their tacit knowledge accessible (book, guide, tools), and promoting their profession in schools. The project has four main components: organization of work time, participation in the Legacy Circle, mentor training, and legacy transmission. Organization of work time for staff at the end of their career is used here as an employment maintenance strategy. From September to May each year, it allows 10 people age 50 or over, for one day a week, to participate in the project. Time devoted to the project involves certain scheduled activities, such as the Legacy Circle and mentor training, while participants engage in other activities, such as passing on their professional experience through a personal or team project, at a time convenient for them. Participation in the Legacy Circle entails transferring personal knowledge and expertise to other members of the organization, especially the most important lessons learned in the course of a career. A legacy may take various forms: material, intangible, professional, or personal. The Legacy Circle is a forum for deliberation and dialogue among people in the last third of their active working life. It develops two new types of knowledge – for remaining in the workplace and for leaving – and these include the ability to “package” and pass on one’s professional legacy. Through a Legacy Circle, participants are encouraged to review their career and recognize the wealth of their experience, develop an awareness of their needs and plans for the last third of their career, reflect on how to make the most of the end of their career and transition to retirement, develop employment maintenance strategies for the last third of their career, define their professional heritage, and prepare to pass on their legacy by exploring how and with whom they will accomplish that task. Mentor training serves two purposes. First, it demystifies professional mentoring for participants and identifies the mentor’s role within the organization. Second, participants are taught the actual practice of mentoring. At the end of this training, participants are able to decide whether they consider professional mentoring an effective way of passing on their legacy, whether they wish to mentor young recruits, and if so, how they wish to do this, based on their needs, expectations, and aspirations. The program targets various outcomes. It motivates and empowers staff at the end of their career as well as young recruits. Participants in fact display a genuine commitment to the Intergenerational Cooperation Program and participate in many different initiatives to improve the quality of worklife and foster mutual assistance and cooperation between generations. It preserves organizational memory through the production of various products (book, guide, tools) and develops an intergenerational support network that otherwise would never come into being due to lack of time in the usual work context. For example, a book on expertise in dealing with clients and their families has been written, a poster with the title “Recipe for Success” has been developed, memory aids have been produced to support various processes (admission, transfer, OR preparation), group meetings between young recruits and people at the end of their career have been organized for discussions on various themes, and personal mentoring meetings have been held between young recruits and people at the end of their career. This program also improves the work atmosphere by forging links between people at the end of their career and young recruits, as well as transforming perceptions and beliefs among members of one generation about members of the other. Quality of worklife is ensured through organization of work time and there is a feeling of accomplishment for people at the end of their career and a reduction in stress and isolation among young recruits. Staff loyalty is built through the development of employment-maintenance skills for staff at the end of their careers and through the forging of bonds with new recruits. The Intergenerational Cooperation Program is visible, attracts participants, and is received enthusiastically by young employees, who gain access to positive role models.
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