Life Stream are a unique organisation in that they engage a significant paid staff of 60 people, but are also supported by over 75 volunteers, many of which are over 45. CEO Cathy Wilson found that the guidance from the Corporate Champions programme was relevant not only to her paid staff, but also to the volunteers and members of Life Stream.
One of the prominent benefits of the programme for Life Stream was creating awareness. “When I did the demographics and saw the age distribution of my staff it was a surprise, it was a bit of a wakeup call.” said Ms Wilson. “Also I hadn’t thought anything was wrong with our policies, but I found there are areas where we could do better. We have quite a lot of flexibility but there are areas we need to revisit.”
After speaking with her staff, Ms Wilson was able to establish what was most important to them at this stage of their career. For example, some older workers indicated that they wanted access to ongoing training and to be able to pass on what they had learnt through mentoring others, while others expressed their need for challenging and interesting work. She also found that many of her older workers were not well prepared for retirement and money was one of their biggest worries as they contemplated the next stage beyond work.
As an organisation that is undergoing change in a challenging environment, the main risks that emerged were staff retention, staff engagement and knowledge retention and transfer. To address this, Life Stream’s action plan is focused on support and training, team building and information and knowledge transfer.
Ms Wilson now approaches her leadership role with a different level of awareness and knowledge of her mature age staff and their needs. Reflecting on her action plan, Ms Wilson concluded that while her plan didn’t seem to be particularly innovative, she would not have thought about the issues or the interventions had she not been a Corporate Champion.