A Golden Opportunity: Hiring the Baby Boomers to Advance the Workforce

by Kevin W. Grossman

By the time you finish reading this sentence, six Baby Boomers will turn 65 years old. By midnight tonight that number will top 10,000. By the end of the work week, some 50,000 will hang up their hats and enter retirement. Signifying the Baby Boomers’ mass exodus from the workforce, these soon-to-be former employees are taking with them a lifetime of talent and skills – and leaving HR with a huge quandary.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 54.8 million jobs are expected to open up by 2020 with 62 percent of the vacancies due to Boomer retirements. During the same timeframe, McKinsey & Company notes there will be an estimated 1.5 million fewer college graduates than needed to fill this gigantic void. Though a labor shortage seems unlikely in today’s changing job market, the Boomers impact on the workforce requires organizations to develop strategies now to meet current and future recruitment and retention challenges.

Already some 72% of HR managers report that the loss of talented Baby Boomers signifies a real problem for industries and geographies in need of qualified talent. With fewer entrants, fluctuating markets and high unemployment, how can organizations cope with the skills gap and gain competitive advantage? Well, the good news is those Baby Boomers are healthier, more physically active and expected to live longer than any previous workforce.

Since the youngest of the Boomers are turning 49 this year, a good portion of this population has yet to age-out of the workforce. What’s further, though 65 is typically the traditional age for retirement, today’s adults continue to work well beyond their 60s and into their 70s, even 80s. Given longer lives and increased cost of living, many older adults have no choice but to keep working. Some work to stay young; others because they need the income. Many return to work simply because they miss being challenged. Though some Baby Boomers are electing to stay in their chosen profession, others are seeking part-time or flexible work to complement their busy lifestyle. Whatever the reason, recruiting and engaging the Boomers now will allow employers to harvest the skills they have already invested in and prepare for what’s to come.

While the Boomers remain active, their seasoned talent can be used to close skill gaps and help colleagues advance technical capabilities, professional networks, and career goals. Boomers can offer guidance, bring new hires onboard and up to speed quickly, and help the organization maintain an authentic culture particularly during periods of growth. Developing strategies geared toward the Baby Boomers can help organizations meet hiring goals and ensure vital skills and capabilities are not lost. But to do this, employers will need to update and advance their talent management strategy in order to build and retain a blended workforce. Here are four recommendations to do just that:

  1. Increase your flexibility – Organizations that offer flexible work opportunities or project-based jobs can appeal to Boomers with a busy lifestyle or those individuals who are not seeking a full-time commitment (this is true for many generations today). A talent acquisition system that provides complete visibility into both permanent and contingent labor will help organizations understand their existing talent pool, as well as where to focus recruitment efforts. Offer current and future employees contingent or flexible work opportunities that are designed to meet both the organization and individual’s needs.
  2. Become more social – Baby Boomers are one of the fastest growing segments on social media. Experienced workers expect to connect with the best employers through the technologies they use in their everyday life, whether that’s email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other solutions. Content should be tailored to this demographic, and include a variety of contact options such as direct messaging, through the company career site or other social destinations. Incorporating tools such as social onboarding can facilitate collaboration and help new hires integrate with the workforce sooner.
  3. Boost your brand – Similar to other workforce populations, Baby Boomers want to work for progressive organizations that deliver a positive work experience and a strong employment brand can help attract new hires for hard-to-fill roles. Investing in employment brand management can communicate flexible opportunities and help retain Baby Boomer workers to backfill part-time roles. The right technology will help companies manage the candidate experience across different workforce segments and networks.
  4. Plan accordingly – Tracking the employee lifecycle can demonstrate benefits to the organization for motivating and retaining employees. While certain industries are already feeling the effects of Baby Boomers retiring en masse, planning to address the impact now can help organizations gain access to critical skills and avoid a possible labor shortage.

Employers that take a proactive approach to recruiting and retaining Baby Boomers can rest assured that their organization will retain its knowledge base and enable younger workers to drive innovation and advance their skills. Implementing contemporary workforce flexibility will create competitive advantage, foster a sustainable work environment that meets retention and recruitment requirements, and offer Boomers a more affluent and productive approach to their golden “working” years.

Originally posted on recruitingtrends.com