Commentary

Retain Boomers And Succeed In Business

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.

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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.

 

4 comments about "Retain Boomers And Succeed In Business".
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  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 3, 2017 at 1:56 p.m.

    Huh ? Too many boomers are being moved out as soon as they reach 50 just like ratings. All joking aside, South Korean and Asian cultures have more respect for their elders than the US so comparison is not going to work. Also, too many examples of the workforce 45 and under and they do not hire boomers, but push them out. It may be illegal, but proof is difficult and attorneys won't touch it because most do not know how and it is an expensive order so the law suit must be worth at least $300,000 - $500,000 before considered. Ask an attorney.

  2. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch, August 3, 2017 at 2:26 p.m.

    Many boomers (this correrspondent included) find continued work in fields they've enjoyed to be stimulating and rewarding. We think we are still productive and make valuabvle contributions to or colleagues, clients and industries. (We also keep paying taxes.) Frankly, retirement can be drop dead boring, at least while you're healthy and reasonably vigorous. Those with higher management or technical responsibilities should accept lesser roles, though, to make room for younger colleagues, not frustrate their growth potential. We should not be seen as threats to our more junior team members or to our superiors. So if we are contributing, why not take advantage of the opportunity? Win-win-win.

  3. Scott Howard from SCLOHO, August 4, 2017 at 3:13 p.m.

    My Dad, who passed away 19 years ago at age 67 spent the last couple years of his life as "an outside consultant".  He was required to retire from his position with General Electric as a purchasing agent when he turned 65.
    But because of his worth and abilities, he was hired back with a differernt official title but the reaity is he sat in the same chair and desk he previously occupied for 10 years!  He was also making more in his new role.

    If you can provide value, many employers will find a way to keep you, one way or another.

  4. Scott Howard from SCLOHO, August 4, 2017 at 3:41 p.m.

    Also, my wife who turned 65 this year and decided to just work part time in nursing keeps getting unsolicited job offers to run entire departments.  Some professions have a real shortage that are in danger due to the lack of qualified people.

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