A voluntary retirement program can be a great way help older workers exit your organization in way that sets them up for future success while also allowing your organization to maintain a healthy level of turnover.
The program can also help negate the need for layoff events and other reductions in force, too, by allowing workers to voluntarily leave instead of being selected by management. This means that the organization can reduce headcount without all of the negatives that come with involuntary events.
We’ve already covered voluntary retirement programs in detail here. However, how do you start the process? What’s the first step?
Like any program, it’s all about the notification. After all, how will you staff members ever take up the program if they have no idea it exists or what is required for them to partake?
To help, we have created a sample notification email letter that you can customize to send out to your staff, alerting them of the program and how they can get more information.
Let’s get into it.
First Off, What’s the Best Way to Announce a Voluntary Retirement Program?
The best way to announce anything at your organization is to send out an email to all staff members. When it comes to retirement programs or other voluntary reduction events, you should always send an email to everyone.
Because it means that everyone at your organization will know what is going on and you will not find yourself hunting down specific groups to offer the incentive to. Even if only a certain department or team meets the requirements for the incentive, by sending a message to all employees you ensure that you do not target protected groups.
When it comes to any reduction event or retirement incentive, you have to pay special care to make sure you are following all local, state, and federal laws that have been put in place to protect older workers and other protected groups. Make sure to work with your legal counsel to ensure you are compliant. (Note: we are not lawyers).
So, an email is likely the best way to announce an event like this. You can, if you really want to, send a full-blown letter or put a note within your staffers paychecks. Just make sure that it is somewhere where your staff knows to look for such announcements. Hiding the incentive in some intranet page that no one ever looks at will not work and may not even be a compliant way of doing so depending on your state.
Okay, now that that’s out of the way. Let’s take a look at the letter itself by breaking the letter down by it’s paragraphs.
A Voluntary Retirement Program Announcement Letter: The Intro
Like every letter, you need to start by addressing your staff. If you have an email system that allows you to use merge tags, use the worker’s first name and treat the overall announcement like a letter you’d send out in the mail.
Something along the lines of:
For a merge field, it’d likely look something like:
If you don’t have a field like this, no worries. Just make it something that works for everyone, such as:
Dear All Staff
Dear [Company Name] Employees,
Once you address your audience, move right into the first paragraph, which should announce the program without using a bunch of flowery language. Just get to the point.
Here’s a sample:
“I am happy to announce that after careful consideration our organization will be offering a voluntary retirement program to all eligible employees who have dedicated their careers to making our organization exceptional.”
As you can see, this is straight to the point. Note, though, that you do not go into great detail as to what the requirements are for the program. There will likely have to be figured out by your management team. For example, you could offer your program to someone who has worked at your organization for X number of years (25, for instance) and are X years old (50, for example).
Based on your organization, these requirements will change, which takes us into the next part of the letter.
Part Two: Who Is Eligible?
The second paragraph should touch on these requirements. Again, they will likely change based on your organization. Some places, for instance, don’t even require a person to reach a certain age. Instead, they offer the incentive to workers based on how long they have worked there.
Here’s an example of the second paragraph:
“This program is a one time event, and will be available to all eligible employees between <date range>. Eligible employees include those who are aged 60 or older and have completed more than 10 years of service at our organization.”
Also, if this isn’t a one-time event, you can change that to make it accurate. This paragraph is the one that needs to change the most based on your needs.
If you are looking for ways to determine your eligibility for a voluntary retirement program, check out our other guide here.
Part Three: Explain Your Reasoning For the Incentive
The third part is super short, designed specifically to explain why you are offering this benefit. It really only needs to be a sentence or so.
We recommend something like this:
“This program supports our initiatives to develop a sustainable business model over the long run, as we continue to work hard to achieve our goals.”
Basically, you need to just briefly talk about why this is coming up. You can decide how much information you want to have in this section, though you shouldn’t do a deep dive into your reasoning at this point. If people have a bunch of questions, they will ask them, which moves us to the next part: how do people find more info?
This paragraph is purely informational. It’s purpose is provide a way for your staffers - those who are interested in taking up the program and those who merely have questions - to set a time to talk with HR or whoever is running the program.
This paragraph can look something like this:
“For more information the voluntary retirement program, please visit our [Insert Your Company’s Web page Link Here] to learn about the financial incentives, benefits, and policies involved. You can also schedule a time to [Link to HR Team’s Scheduling Software] to discuss this program.”
This means you will have to make forms and information available online so that your staff can look them over whenever they can. This is where you should go over, in detail, what requirements are needed to partake in the program.
After these pages have been made and linked within the email, you are set to close out.
The Sign Off
After all of that information, it’s time to sign off. We recommend winding down the email with a small section about the future to make sure that the incentive comes off in the right light. After all, any sort of reduction initiative can be seen negatively even if it’s voluntary.
We recommend something like this:
“We will continue to approach our future from our foundation of strength, and as company who appreciates all of its employees hard work and effort. Moving forward, we will stay focused on the strategic vision of our organization to <insert company vision or mission statement>.”
Basically, you want to just wrap up the letter by focusing on the future and the business’ goals.
After that, you can simply sign off on the letter just like you would with any other letter. Something like:
After that, you are ready to send the letter.
The whole point of this document is to announce the incentive without listing out every single aspect of it. If people have questions, they will reach out to HR using the scheduling form you have included in your letter.
A voluntary retirement program can be great if handled correctly, as we have mentioned above. If you want to learn more about the process, check out our other guides here: