Baby Boomers – Not the Nanas and Pop-Pops of Earlier Generations
By: Deb Sutton
There is good news for the Baby Boomer generation in regards to the employment situation. I believe now more than ever before Boomers have a great chance to compete in the job arena. Many of them felt the pangs of being discriminated against by employers who have hired younger less expensive workers. One popular theory is that boomers can successfully compete with the millennials and the other generations in all areas of the world of work. They are in many cases more educated, smarter, more customer service oriented, and have a plethora of experience which millennials and other generations cannot match. Their work ethic is strong, they do not call in sick at every little ache and pain. Additionally, they give their employers the best work quality out there today. Parents of boomers, who in most cases were from the World War II generation, taught them the value of working hard to make an honest wage.
Holly Wells (Human Resources Manager for Vastec in Tampa Bay) will occasionally get a call from a business leader who’s in a near-panic. “So-and- so’s getting ready to retire,” she says, summarizing their state of mind. “They’ve been with me for 40 years, and now I’ve got to replace that person. What am I going to do?”
As baby boomers begin to retire, similar scenes will be playing out more frequently on phone calls and in board rooms nationwide. Boomers who account for the largest generation and are aged between 52- and 70-years- old have a lot of knowledge, skills and good work ethic not often found in younger workers.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) a national organization of HR professionals recently polled its members about what their organizations were doing to prepare for the aging workforce. They were not certain that the younger generations were going to be able to keep pace with the current generations that were quickly exiting the workplace in retirement. In fact, 13% of the polled companies said they weren’t even aware of the issue, which is rather strange considering all the media attention on the subject. Many organizations don’t worry about the demographic shift until they actually start losing their key people.
The Recession of 2007 put a damper on the “war for talent” and ate into many older workers’ retirement savings, causing them to stay in the workforce longer than they’d planned and allowing some companies to put off facing the inevitable. Still, more than one-third of respondents to the SHRM survey are examining their policies and practices to prepare for the projected increase in the proportion of older workers, defined as those 55 or older.
The interesting phenomena that I now see happening is that Baby Boomers are feeling the pain of living on Social Security and maybe a small 401-K or pension. Many of them are living healthy lifestyles and are seemingly bored after a year or two in retirement and are eager to re-enter the workforce.
“Hopefully more and more employers will see the value of these older workers like I do” says Machelle Thompson, an Independent HR Consultant. “For the most part, their work ethic, skills level, knowledge and education makes them ideal workers. Boomers that decide to re-enter the work force can add value to the bottom line and can even mentor the younger work force as to those great work values. This is a win-win scenario and fits with our current climate of “making America great again.”
The author, Deb Sutton, is the founder and owner of HR Pros, LLC a national consulting Practice located in Parrish, FL that provides HR Consulting, Executive Recruitment and Career Coaching.
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