Helen, age 64, has been with the organization 33 years. For most of those years, Helen’s performance was exceptional. “She lived and breathed the organization,” is the way a previous boss described her.
Helen has recently experienced serious family problems that have affected her health to the point that she is unable to adequately perform her job. Helen says that she wants to work 10 more months and retire at 65.
The president said, “I’m in a dilemma, I feel sorry for Helen and I’m very grateful for what she has done for us. Still, I’m not in a position to hire another person. If Helen stays, others will have to take some of her work.”
“Could Helen take an early retirement?” I asked.
The president reported that he had suggested early retirement but Helen said that she would like to stay on until sixty-five if she could.
I say tell Helen and anyone else that you absolutely will honor her request. Helen’s thirty-plus years of loyalty and productivity are surely enough to earn her another ten months.
When others complain about having to do part of Helen’s work, listen with empathy. Smile and say, “I understand and I really appreciate what you are doing to help us out here.”