Business Matters: Staving off brain drain
For 33 years, Dave Tobelmann worked to develop new products at General Mills as a senior research and development manager. Tobelmann loved his job.

"You work with the best of the best, and that's probably the top thing that you remember during your career," Tobelmann says.

After retiring in 2012 at age 57, the Plymouth resident knew he would volunteer and travel, but he also knew he would work.

"I had always wanted to work part-time, I thought that would really be fun."

Now age 59, Tobelmann is back at General Mills working about 20 hours a month through YourEncore, a staffing firm that specializes in providing companies with experienced technical and business experts.

With 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day in the United States, brain drain is of great concern to many businesses.

"It's amazing the loss that's taking place at a lot of technically based companies," says Jim Kamman, an account director for YourEncore.

Kamman helps companies stave off brain drain by placing workers with 25 years or more of experience in workplaces part–time. Most often its scientists, engineers, chemists, and technologists placed in consumer products and life science industries.

Kamman says experienced workers bring a perspective that can help younger employees avoid repeating company missteps.

"It's a tremendous sense of history and knowledge, and it enables those younger workers to accelerate that development or implementation that they're going after for the company," says Kamman.

For Dave Tobelmann, the flexibility of working several hours each week at General Mills consulting and providing historical background on different projects is a dream retirement job.
"Intellectually, it's still very stimulating," says Tobelmann. "I mean people have problems and there aren't simple answers."

The job allows him time to volunteer hundreds of hours as a master naturalist at the University of Minnesota and also travel with his family, which puts Tobelmann in the driver seat of his retirement.

"In addition to doing this work, I get to do a lot of other things that I'm interested in, and that's the kind of life I wanted," says Tobelmann.

Alexandra Renslo reporting
Twitter: @alexrenslo

February 9, 2015


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