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Punching a clock into the golden years
Berkeley's Retirement Center lands a national award for its Retiree Work Opportunities program

| 06 June 2007

The UC Berkeley Retirement Center's Retiree Work Opportunities (RWO) program - an innovative solution to address the campus's short-term, temporary staffing needs - was among 10 nonprofit and public-sector organizations honored last week with a BreakThrough Award at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.


Shelly Glazer (Photo courtesy Civic Ventures)
 

This year, Civic Ventures, a think tank dedicated to creating programs to help society achieve the greatest return on experience, established the awards, which are funded by the MetLife Foundation. Although no monetary prize is attached to the honor, winners' best practices will be showcased in a media campaign targeting other organizations, stakeholders, and investors that may benefit from their knowledge. "These award-winning organizations are at the forefront of what promises to be a critical transformation of our workforce, economy, and ability to meet social needs," says Phyllis Segal, vice president of Civic Ventures.

Such human-resources savvy is especially needed now, as millions of baby boomers are seeking new work opportunities in retirement.

"Fortunately, we know that many older Americans want to keep working, but they want to do new types of work on different terms with strong social benefits," says Sibyl Jacobson, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "The BreakThrough Award winners demonstrate new ways to productively connect employer, employees, and society."

The Retirement Center introduced the Retirees Work Opportunities program in 2002; the program was further developed as an e-Berkeley initiative in 2005 and 2006. To date, more than 330 retirees have accessed the RWO website (thecenter.berkeley.edu/rwo.html), and many have created profiles that include their campus work history, expertise, and availability. Retirees' work experience runs the gamut, including editing, grant writing, financial and project management, technical and lab work, human resources, student affairs, contracts, technology transfer, and administration. Many of the potential candidates know their way around campus IT systems such as HRMS, BFS, or BAIRS. And their knowledge of "how things are done at UC," combined with the relationships they've already built here, often gives them that extra edge to "hit the ground running," says Gloria Parra, RWO program manager.

Approximately 240 campus hiring managers have used the service - which is free for both the hiring department and the retiree - to fill their part-time, temporary, and short-term project needs, says Shelley Glazer, the Retirement Center's executive director.

Recognition for RWO comes during the center's 10th year, and the BreakThrough Award was "a great way to begin celebrating," says Glazer. RWO is a perfect example of how the center "creates a bridge from being an active employee to being a retiree who can still make a contribution to Cal and have continued inclusion as a member of the Cal community," she says. Both retired staff and emeriti faculty "want to feel welcome and invited" on the campus where many of them provided several decades of service.

The center's roots go back to the 1980s, when dedicated individuals in Berkeley's Retiree and Emeriti Associations created a support structure to "maintain a connection to the campus they love," says Glazer. Today, the center serves 14,000 retired faculty, staff, and surviving spouse beneficiaries from Berkeley, UC Office of the President, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with its Learning in Retirement education program, comprehensive pre-retirement planning program, and discounts to campus services.

For information, visit thecenter.berkeley.edu. To learn more about RWO, read the Aug. 30, 2006, Berkeleyan story, "Tapping into a hidden workforce," newscenter.berkeley.edu/goto/rwo.