Baby Boomers are leaving workplaces across the country in a mass exodus. The oldest of the Boomers are now in their 70s, with the youngest clocking in at 53. This means that, over the next 15 years, America is poised to lose a third of its workforce and nearly half of its corporate leadership. “But many Boomers plan to work into their 70s!,” you say. While a Boomer may be quick to keep this dream alive, the reality is far different. A Gallup poll reports that only 16% of Boomers are still working full time by the age of 68. This is a very real problem that employers must face.
The first step to solving this problem is to realize that retaining your Boomers longer is both part of the problem and part of the solution. Keeping Boomers in place will help your business operate smoothly, as they have the knowledge and demonstrated skills. However, don’t plan on them staying forever. Instead of just having them continue in the position as they always have, ask them to dedicate a certain amount of time each week to transferring their knowledge by mentoring members of your team. This way, in 12 to 24 months, you’ll have retained valuable information in the business without disrupting the regular workflow.
Keeping those Boomers for a year or more requires your organization to think critically about how to make it a win-win situation for both parties. We already know that the business will benefit, but how do you make it a good choice for the employee as well? Start by offering benefits that appeal to Boomers, such as flexible hours for vacation, remote work and additional time off for health maintenance. Also, demonstrate the value of the health insurance plan and continued investment in their retirement funds. Total compensation statements are great for this, as they show the real dollar value of benefits that are semi-intangible. Above all, Boomers are fiscally prudent, so helping them understand that a little more work now could equal a bigger payout later is a great carrot.
Retirement communities are becoming especially wise to these trends as well, not only applying in-house strategies to stabilize their workforce, but also recognizing that potential residents may still be working even after moving in. There’s a niche market of retirees who are looking to make the move into a community but who want to remain close to their employer. They also don’t want to worry about how their continued employment will change their admissibility, financially or otherwise. By adapting to these trends, many communities are carving out a great market for themselves by supporting those Boomers who are still actively employed.
Globally, awareness of the importance of older workers who bring specific skills and abilities that can only come with experience is growing. Take, for instance, EverYoung, a new South Korean tech start-up that is only hiring people aged 55 and older. The company has created a culture of celebrating the knowledge and talent of its workforce. By doing so, employees are not only more engaged and productive, but they’ve found the social outlet that employment provides to be invaluable.
Boomers are the backbone of nearly every major industry. They are the keepers of corporate knowledge and are incredibly reliable. Businesses that have a succession plan in place, with a robust knowledge transfer component, will come out of this era changed for the better. Those that choose to ignore the trends are going to be left behind — for good.