It’s said that every day 10,000 baby boomers reach the traditional retirement age of 65. This represents a massive demographic shift in the workforce that most businesses are unprepared for. Is your organization ready?
Impact of Baby Boomer Retirements
As boomers exit the workforce in ever greater numbers, many organizations will find themselves struggling with the aftermath. Why? Because those valuable employees will be taking with them decades of experience, skills, and institutional knowledge that will be difficult to replace. Along with this boomer “brain drain,” companies will also see lower profitability and find there are fewer replacement workers to take over.
While it’s true that many of the nearly 80 million boomers are choosing to work past the age of 65, the reality is your organization will need to recruit new workers, especially millennials, to replace the vast majority who decide to exit the workforce. There are steps you can take today to turn a boomer retirement wave into a business opportunity.
- Take a workforce assessment and determine what your risks are. What percentage of your employees is approaching retirement, what skills do they provide, and how will the loss of those skills affect your business?
- The loss of experienced workers can be detrimental, but strategic hiring can lessen the damage. You can now bring in younger, technologically savvy candidates to fill the gap. A younger workforce also allows you to shift to a more flexible approach to the workday. Another plus of having millennials move up in management? They’re more likely to encourage collaboration and social connections.
- Promote the transfer of knowledge between employees by developing mentorship programs that allow potential replacements to shadow retiring boomers to gain first-hand knowledge of the skills required for the job. Some businesses have created programs that feature retired employees remaining involved with the organization, working as consultants, temporary, or part-time employees.
Plan Now, Flourish Later
So much is unknown about the future of the workforce, but there’s no question that businesses must start preparing now to bridge the coming talent gap. Take a moment to ask yourself:
- Is your organization ready to consider more creative and innovative workforce solutions; ones that include job sharing, part-time or remote workers, a compressed work week, or contingent workers?
- Have you identified the leadership jobs that will require well-developed succession plans?
- Does your company have a strategy in place for transferring knowledge to the next generation of workers? What programs can you put in place now to capture the critical know-how of boomers who will be retiring possess?
- How will you train the younger workforce? Will you focus on creating challenging job experiences, rather than traditional career paths?
The good news is that the baby boomer retirement movement is still in its early days, meaning you have time to put a transition plan in place. But don’t delay. The sooner you act to harness the knowledge and skills of older workers while cultivating their successors, the more smoothly your organization will shift its demographic framework.