Mainframe Propeller Head

Aug 21 2008   3:52PM GMT

American Express takes steps to retain institutional knowledge

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Exchange Server ActiveSync

BusinessWeek had a great story yesterday about American Express’ attempt to retain some of the institutional knowledge that was slowly draining from the company, mostly in the form of retirements. And yes, that institutional knowledge includes mainframe know-how.

The key to the change is a phased-retirement program, where the elder statesmen in the company are able to gradually drop more and more of their day-to-day responsibilities to educate others in the company about everything that they know.

In addition, they get more time out of the office doing whatever they want—be it planning for life in retirement or doing charity work. The phased retiree continues to receive a portion of his previous salary, benefits as usual, and the company in turn gets to hold on to some of its most valuable employees a year or more past traditional retirement age.

Right now the phased-retirement program is only available for employees in American Express’ technology and finance departments. According to Jim Rottman, the company’s head of workforce transformation group, it also allows those employees to “avoid some of the emotional and financial hurdles of sudden retirement.”

Another remedy for older mainframers, at least in the emotional sense? Go jogging.

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