Friday, August 22, 2008

Baby Boomer Butts – Kiss Them Now?

Experts disagree about whether the aging of the workforce will produce a severe labor shortage. Gray2K hasn’t happened. Even the Bureau of Labor Statistics has changed its originally dire projections, although they now say there still will be a shortage in the US (2.4 million people by 2014).

One thing that most experts do agree on is the fact that the number of baby boomers in the workforce will double (as a percent of all workers) over the next 5-10 years. If we are lucky! If they start retiring too soon, the shortage will increase. As Ken Dychtwald described in his book Workforce Crisis, US employers need to really appreciate and better accommodate mature workers. Clearly there will not be enough Gen-X and Gen-Y’ers to replace the boomers who will retire.

Baby boomers are uniformly regarded as healthier, more active, more experienced, and more mature than their younger counterparts. They are often more loyal and more committed, and they make better mentors and teachers. They often possess the “tribal knowledge” of the organization.

Now is the time for employers to shift gears and be more open to exploring what it takes to recruit, retain and motivate these valuable resources. It’s not necessarily about money. Boomer employees are not necessarily more expensive. They do want time – more vacation, paid time off, etc., but surprisingly, they are often OK with taking such time unpaid. They want to know they’ll be considered for promotion, be able to mentor others, increase their skills through training – in other words, be treated like younger employees.

The employers who embrace the concept of boomers as an asset will have an edge if the shortage does happen, and will be modeling better behavior overall toward their workforce – something even younger workers will notice.

Mark Bregman – CEO, Boyle Ogata Bregman
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