HP’s Older Volunteer Corps – Lessons for the Library?
As talk of civic engagement, re-careering, and volunteerism continue to dominate the current retirement debate, libraries and social service agencies continue to seek out model programs.
A recent article in the New York Times entitled “Going to the Company Elders for Help” highlights how Hewlett-Packard has retained a significant number of retirees as sales volunteers in various retail outlets. The article credits the company’s former commitment to employees and its family-like atmosphere, one which has changed in recent years. Their successful mobilization of retired volunteers has not come without criticism. Some challenge HP for not paying retired workers for their PR and sales expertise, while HP argues that it is simply a way for former employees to continue to participate in the HP community without a need for payment.
Libraries have used volunteers for support on programs and daily operations, but have not created a full scale volunteer corps based on the the patron loyalty which libraries have developed over the years. How can older volunteers be utilized as library advocates similar to HP’s model? Should retired volunteers be paid, similar to the model which the organization ReServe is successfully implementing?
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