How do older workers — “tenured talent,” as you call them — help ATOS achieve its goals?
Lamoreaux: There's the historical perspective they bring, of course. People in the tenured talent space know the history of the company and were part of making that history. They have very deep relationships with our clients and vendors, and also have skills such as being able to communicate across cultures and across generations. They are able to mentor and guide [less experienced employees] as well as provide training and technology support. Plus, they're good project managers; they're good leaders.
Because they've been in the workplace for a longer time, they also can explain to those who are coming into the workplace for the first time a little about business etiquette: how to properly engage [clients], how to structure a meeting so that it runs effectively. They have some of those soft skills, things that are not necessarily taught in college, that people need as soon as they enter the workplace. They're very good partners to help acclimate the new employees.
ATOS recently launched a program called Bridging the Generational Skills Gap to provide training opportunities for workers age 50 and older. What are your goals for that program?
Lamoreaux: “People now are working 10 to 15 years longer than previous generations did. What ends up happening is in this technology space, it's extremely competitive. Companies expect certifications that are very current. Our clients are looking for certifications that are relevant to the tools and technologies in place today.
As we looked at the countries where we had to pay the most attention to our tenured talent who are potentially preparing to either stay in [their jobs] or exit the building for retirement, we knew that we also had to put together some good reskilling and upskilling courses for them, so that they could stay relevant and advance themselves.
Each quarter, we'll have a different focus about what we want to talk [to our tenured talent] about during that time frame that is really pertinent to the skill set we're looking for. We'll be talking with them about some of our internal opportunities to engage not only from a certifications perspective but also through our affinity groups and some of the learning libraries we have available to us in our learning catalog and so forth, to really help them. Plus, we have a list of courses of the certifications they can take that are available to them free of charge.
For example, one of our affinity groups is called the Return to Work Network, and it's a support system for people coming back to the workplace after some kind of break, whether it's maternity/paternity, illness, or whether it's a second start and a new career because of downsizing. It's sort of a buddy system to help people acclimate, and they have a certain period where there's a person assigned to them to answer questions, give them information so they can go further. That program has been very well received by our people, either coming into ATOS as an outside employee or entering ATOS.
Kenneth Terrell covers employment, age discrimination, work and jobs, careers and the federal government for AARP. He previously worked for the Education Writers Association and U.S. News & World Report, where he reported on government and politics, business, education, science and technology, and lifestyle news.