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FAQs For Managers and Leaders (VIRP)

Unless an individual has specifically communicated their eligibility for this program, managers and supervisors should not make assumptions about a person’s eligibility or interest in retiring. 

The process for eligible individuals to request and be approved for VIRP are as follows: 

  1. Eligible employees have from August 24, 2020 – September 25, 2020 to submit their intent to participate to Human Resources through my.tcu.edu 
  1. An acknowledgement of Human Resources receiving this request is sent via email to the employee 
  1. Human Resources will reach out to the department to discuss the request (s), departmental needs, requested retirement date and other pertinent information 
  1. Human Resources will notify the employee of the decision related to their request 
  1. The department will submit a retirement PAF 

Eligible employees are not required to speak to their supervisor or manager in advance of their request. Human Resources will manage discussions regarding requests. With respect to legal limitations of a voluntary retirement program, supervisors and managers are instructed not to inquire, speak with or ask about an employee’s eligibility and/or intent to participate. 

First, acknowledge appreciation that they have shared with you their desire to retire. It’s a huge and personal step! It’s okay to ask if they’ve got a retirement date in mind. If you’re certain about approving their participation, it’s encouraging to communicate that now. If you aren’t sure about supporting their request, acknowledge needing some time to think about the department needs and the impact their retirement will have on operations. 

Whether an employee has told you themselves or you already know someone is eligible for VIRP, managers and supervisors cannot and should not encourage, suggest or pressure employees to apply for VIRP specifically, or retirement in general. The decision to retire is personal and depends on many factors that directly affect a person’s financial, emotional and physical health and well-being. 

An individual submitting an intent to participate in VIRP does not result in automatic approval. If a high number of individuals in one unit are eligible and interested, you will naturally feel stress and anxiety about the impact this could have on your department. As a unit supervisor, it’s important to keep business operation needs in mind, while also balancing these with individual needs. Human Resources will assist with your concerns and guide the final decision.  

If an employee asks you about the retirement situation of another employee, it’s important to maintain the privacy of the retiring person so they can share the news when they are ready. 

Approving VIR should not be based on concern that you will lose a position. TCU is committed to supporting the business purpose of every department with the staff necessary to serve our stakeholders. While supporting the retirement desires of employees on your team, also take time to revisit the service mission of your department at TCU and the role each particular position plays in your department. Unless the job description for an anticipated vacant position has been reviewed and updated in the last 6 months, you are expected to conduct a job audit and review the position with guidance from Human Resources for it to be approvedWhile many searches are on hold, hiring supervisors should work with Vice Chancellors or the Provost to determine departmental needs, evaluate requests and determine the next steps. Human Resources has a best practice talent review process for auditing, revising or redesigning positions prior to posting and recruiting candidates.   

Decisions about retirement are personal and private. If anyone reporting to you received notification of their eligibility, they are not required to communicate with their supervisor. All eligible employees must submit their intent to participate August 24, 2020—September 25, 2020. Once an employee submits their intent, Human Resources will communicate with the department. 

The thought of losing institutional knowledge when someone retires can be an area of great stress for those staying and those leaving! It’s also a chance for great conversations and recollections of how things used to be and what you want them to be going forward. Teams need to work with this department/division head to ensure priorities are defined with measurable outcomes. You can also view or download Options for Transferring Institutional Knowledge document here

As a manager, it’s important to understand that positions vacated by individuals choosing to participate in VIRP will not be filled immediately. Each position will be reviewed to determine campus-wide department needs, with an eye on building an adaptable, skilled workforce plan.  

As soon as someone on your team announces plans to retire, work together as a team to clarify priorities and “need to do” responsibilities. While it’s tempting as a manager to simply reassign duties and tasks, bias influences how this is executed. For example, someone working on campus while others continue to work from home may find themselves doing more work because it’s easier for you to casually ask them in person. You might also find yourself delegating the outgoing staff person’s responsibilities to high performers. But piling things on to already full plates can backfire, causing individuals to shoulder a “performance tax” based on doing good work.  

On the flip side, there are likely team members who are underutilized or have hidden talents. Stop and look around with an understanding that people can “look” busy in a variety of ways, or the efficiency of the work done in your department has slipped over time. It can be valuable to engage everyone in an audit about how work is being done. A job audit form that collects time and tasks can help. EEOS can provide a tool and guidance on how to do this. Consider implementing project management techniques such as a Gantt chart that visually lays tasks out for your entire team, with deadlines and overlaps noted. Microsoft Visio has a Gantt tool, or consider a variety of free project management tools using Monday.comTrello or Microsoft Teams. 

For teams where people have specialized roles, consider cross-training amongst the group, especially around the duties needed to get done in a transition to hiring a new person. Not only does this get you through the short term with retirements, it can be highly rewarding for everyone involved, future-proofs your team when people take time off and builds a stronger succession pipeline when others might leave your department to pursue new opportunities or retire at a later date.  

In the short term, it’s also possible your team may need to say “no” more often to requests or responsibilities that take a lot of outlay with very little return. When saying “no” detracts from the primary purpose of your department, as a manager you may need to temporarily shoulder more lift to get the job done. Or consider partnering with other departments on campus where similar work is being done or delivered to see if you can share the load. If the work your department does can be supplemented with student employees or cool internship opportunities that contribute to career preparation, find ways to engage student volunteers. 

Most important of all, be creative and open-minded, communicate directly and kindly with your entire staff, and find ways to try new approaches that may turn out to be more effective than the old ways of doing things. 

Unless requested by the person retiring, a performance appraisal does not need to be conducted. 

Pre-COVID, might see email invitations and parties to celebrate and honor colleagues retiring from TCU. For obvious reasons, these types of gatherings are temporarily off-limits. While physical distancing can make celebratory events more difficult, there are ways to acknowledge accomplishments and through virtual meetings.

Before planning a celebration, first ask the recipient how they want this occasion to be acknowledged. Some may appreciate the quiet way they can leave TCU right now, while others may want a way to say good-bye to colleagues from all corners of campus.

Take cues from virtual office celebrations and creative employee appreciation ideas, many of which can be transformed using virtual platforms like surprise Zoom retirement parties including party-goers from across campus or creating a Zoom background of a photo of the employee you want to appreciate. While Zoom Happy Hours (after 5) are fun with friends, it’s important to avoid using these types of gatherings for your work team because many don’t use alcohol as a way to celebrate.

If your team prefers to circulate cards for special occasions, consider using virtual Group Greeting Cards. You can also contact HRTraining@tcu.edu to request a membership to Workhuman, an interactive platform for community celebrations using 1:1 conversations, micro-videos to acknowledge accomplishments, life events and gratitudes. Gift giving is an important love-language during milestone moments like retirement. Many long-time employees have plenty of TCU-swag. Instead, search for diverse and unique gifts on Etsy, Universal Yums or Uncommon Goods.

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