The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb


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Throughout human history, most countries have had more young people than old people. This is no longer true in the United States and is even less true in most western European countries and Japan. Between 2010 and 2040, the numbers of elderly Americans will more than double while the non-elderly population will grow by just ten percent. As the United States workforce ages, some analysts and researchers are projecting a labor shortage and a corresponding job boom in the next decade. As a result, there will be a gap in the availability of an educated and trained pool of skilled workers to fill organizational needs. In The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb, Donald L. Venneberg and Barbara Welss Eversole endeavor to shed some light on the issues connected to retaining, and even recruiting, talent from the pool of senior experienced workers.


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The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb

  1. 2. THE BOOMER RETIREMENT TIME BOMB How Companies Can Avoid The Fallout from the Coming Skills Shortage AUTHOR: Donald L. Venneberg & Barbara Welss Eversole PUBLISHER: Praeger, Inc. DATE OF PUBLICATION: 2010 128 pages
  2. 3. FEATURES OF THE BOOK The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb is written for organizational leaders and human resource professionals to shed light on the topic of retaining and recruiting talent from the pool of senior experienced workers to smooth the transition from the upcoming retirement of the Boomer generation.
  3. 4. THE BIG IDEA As the United States workforce ages, some analysts and researchers are projecting a labor shortage and a corresponding job boom in the next decade.
  4. 5. INTRODUCTION In The Boomer Retirement Time Bomb , Donald L. Venneberg and Barbara Welss Eversole endeavor to shed some light on the issues connected to retaining, and even recruiting, talent from the pool of senior experienced workers.
  5. 6. ARE SENIOR WORKERS AN ASSET OR A LIABILITY? Older workers have intrinsic assets which can be brought to bear on solving organizational problems, mentoring younger workers, and providing insight born of experience to everyday business practices. Not utilizing these assets is akin to leaving money on the table. Older workers generally have attained higher levels of education than their predecessors, and have developed values and attitudes favorable to continued work. They often have other strengths as well, such as a strong work ethic, reliability, and high levels of skill.
  6. 7. ARE SENIOR WORKERS AN ASSET OR A LIABILITY? However, when making decisions on retention of senior workers, organizations often take a liability perspective instead of an asset perspective; they focus on the increased cost of senior workers, in terms of salary and benefits, without considering the level of ability and productivity of senior workers in relation to younger workers. Older persons have become increasingly marginalized as being old, frail, unattractive, and nonproductive.
  7. 8. KEEPING SENIOR WORKERS AS ENGAGED AND CONTRIBUTING EMPLOYEES To keep senior workers engaged and committed, organizations must create an age-neutral culture. To change the culture of an organization, it is critically important for managers and leaders to assure that their human resource decisions are not based on age, either explicitly or implicitly. It is essential that organizations follow unbiased hiring practices. Job advertisements should not contain loaded words that point to a youth bias such as, “high energy,” “fresh thinking,” or “fast paced,” which effectively imply that only the young need apply. In addition, organizations need to structure their candidate screening and interviewing processes to assure that they do not put off older workers.
  8. 9. KEEPING SENIOR WORKERS AS ENGAGED AND CONTRIBUTING EMPLOYEES In most organizations, a career path is understood to be a straight climb up the organizational ladder of rank and responsibility. Rank and responsibility is assumed to plummet to zero upon retirement. However, most workers want to somehow down-shift their careers into a less intensive but still challenging and rewarding mode. Alternatively, some may want to sustain their career trajectory at a level which is comfortable to them but still allows them to provide a valuable contribution to the company.
  9. 10. KEEPING SENIOR WORKERS AS ENGAGED AND CONTRIBUTING EMPLOYEES Organizations should be prepared to offer alternatives for the downshifters in particular . Retirees who formerly supervised and managed may no longer wish to do so, having reached a point in their lives where they are more highly motivated by valued work and positive relationships with coworkers. An alternative may be a mentoring role for the senior worker rather than a supervisory role.
  10. 11. BRINGING THEM IN OR BRINGING THEM BACK Not all retirees want to stay retired. Once the initial euphoria of no longer having to go to work each day wears off, some retirees find that they miss the challenge and feeling of worth associated with working. In some cases, their motivation to return to work is economic. These retirees are a potential pool of experienced workers who can be recruited to return to the workforce.
  11. 12. BRINGING THEM IN OR BRINGING THEM BACK Recent studies indicate a significant shift in work patterns of older persons. Baby Boomers may engage in multiple cycles of entry into and exit from the workforce and among careers and types of work. This is good news for managers and leaders of organizations who need to capture the experience, knowledge, and skills of senior workers without having to offer them higher or even matching salaries,benefits, or status as they have held in past jobs or careers.
  12. 13. WORK-LIFE BALANCE Senior workers and other employees seek flexibility. Integrating employees’ work and non-work lives is of increasing interest to organizations. Work can enhance the personal lives of employees, and a fulfilling personal life can facilitate working effectively. A flexible work culture can be particularly useful in retaining older workers. Flexible work arrangements may include part-time work, compressed weekly schedules, job-sharing, and working from home.
  13. 14. WORK-LIFE BALANCE Work-life programs were first instituted in the workplace to help alleviate the work-life conflict employees, originally working mothers, were experiencing. It has evolved into a concept where work-life balance or integration, when incorporated as a cultural change in the organization, can help the organization become more effective through increased productivity of its workforce.
  14. 15. DEALING WITH THE MULTIPLE GENERATIONS IN THE WORKFORCE There is often real or perceived friction between older and younger workers in the workforce. The workplace today has workers from four different generations. This is the result of the population living longer and the tendency of older workers to delay retirement. There are a number of factors that result in conflict among the generations, but the most prevalent is that they simply view what it means to be a valued employee differently. For older workers, time is the most meaningful indicator of workplace commitment.
  15. 16. DEALING WITH THE MULTIPLE GENERATIONS IN THE WORKFORCE Younger workers want to focus on getting results . Older workers who worked their way up the ranks and put in their time feel that their seniority entitles them to be promoted into the jobs they want. Younger workers believe that qualifications alone should result in getting jobs, and they resist the authority that comes with age. Boomers want to change the chain of command, and Generation X simply wants the autonomy to be able to direct their own work. Finally, Millenials want to share and collaborate in an environment where no one commands.
  16. 17. RETIREMENT OR CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT <ul><li>The trend since the 1970s, particularly for men, has been to retire at increasingly younger ages, but there is evidence that this trend may be leveling off or perhaps reversing. There are several reasons for this change in trend, most of which have financial ties: </li></ul><ul><li>Employer-provided pension coverage has leveled off and the proportion of employee contribution to retirement funds has risen sharply compared to employer contribution. </li></ul><ul><li>Many workers have little in the way of retirement savings and, therefore, workers may not be financially prepared to retire. </li></ul>
  17. 18. RETIREMENT OR CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT <ul><li>Rising life expectancy raises concerns among workers that they might outlive their savings. </li></ul><ul><li>Educational levels are higher among Baby Boomers which results in a greater probability of postponing retirement. </li></ul><ul><li>Retirement can be viewed from three levels: ( 1) the individual retiree, (2) the organization from which they retire, and (3) the society as a whole . </li></ul>
  18. 19. CONCLUSION Traditionally, retirement has been seen as a terminal event in one’s life or, at best, a transition from work to leisure. The concept of retirement has shifted especially among the Baby Boomers who are approaching the traditional retirement age of 65. Many of them wish to continue to be engaged in some form of meaningful work and be valued for their contribution. Hopefully, this is good news for organizations that are facing considerable brain drain as a result of the potential loss of some of their most valued and experienced workers, managers, and leaders from the Baby Boomer cohort.
  19. 20. CONCLUSION The challenge is to accommodate this shift in attitude toward retirement and provide a workplace which is welcoming to the Boomers and reflects their value to the organization.
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