What to Do about Your Baby Boomer Retirement Crisis

Green exit sign with title - 31% of the U.S. workforce is going to retire within the next two decades...

How many of your employees are baby boomers? Are you one? The recent economy caused a delay in retirement for this group, but it’s now rapidly approaching. 31% of the U.S. workforce is going to retire within the next two decades.

What does that mean for your business? It means you’re facing baby boomer brain drain. A lapse in knowledge, experience, and skills among your workforce. So far, only 19-37% of business owners have taken any action toward preventing this catastrophe. Why aren’t more business owners preparing for this? It could be that they don’t know how to. Do you?

“The absence of these well-educated and skilled workers will forge a massive gap in your company’s talent pool.”

Some industries are already feeling the impact:

  • Healthcare
  • Energy
  • Construction

Knowledge-Intensive Industries will be affected more-so than others:

  • Education
  • Petrochemical Utilities
  • Finance
  • Federal Government
  • Engineering
  • Defense Manufacturing

Nearly every business, in every industry, will be impacted as baby boomers retire en masse. Luckily, your senior leaders are eager to contribute to the success of your company and leave a lasting impression. You just have to find a way to help them do it. Here are a few tips.

Identify and Prioritize

With a massive number of baby boomers currently in the workforce, it’ll be tough to keep track of them all. Start now by identifying all potential retirees and find out when they plan to retire. Also identify any potential future leaders within the organization.

Find out which retirees are in management and leadership positions. Also identify any senior employees who possess a unique set of skills or expertise. Prioritize these folks and immediately set up a path for knowledge transfer.

Strategically analyze the state of your company and where it will stand when retirement approaches. Go through your list of potential retirees and ask what impact their absence will have on your company. Knowing when your retirees plan to leave is crucial to the success of your knowledge transfer strategy. You should be able to anticipate the effect these retirements will have on your company for the next 5-10 years.

Engage and Retain

Once you have identified your potential retirees it’s time to engage them. Meet with them and discuss their future plans within the organization. Would they be willing to work part-time or on a mentorship basis? Can they work on call and help train employees for their existing roles? What knowledge do they believe to be the most crucial? They will likely be relieved to know you are interested in learning their expectations and helping to accommodate those.

Some businesses have open forums specifically for baby boomers to communicate with each other and higher leadership members. This is a great way to discuss expectations and accommodations. Do they want a more flexible schedule or workload? They might consider putting off retirement for certain benefits like savings or pension plans, health and wellness programs, health coverage for part-time employees or pro-rated benefits for employees on flexible work schedules. If you’re looking for more time with these experienced workers, offering extra benefits for delaying retirement is a great way to do it, by benefitting both parties.


Plan and Prepare

You can do everything in your power to retain your employees, but you’ll never be able to completely stop their eventual retirement. People are looking at retirement differently than they used to. It’s gone from an “end of the road” mentality to the “beginning of your life”. It’s often when people plan to travel, pursue hobbies or even start their own business. It’s their reward for years of hard work and dedication to your company. Get ready, the retirement train is coming and it’s ready to ship nearly one-third of our workforce off to sandy beaches and minty mojitos.

You should have identified emerging leaders in your company by now and it’s time to pool them together. Their involvement is crucial to the implementation of your strategy. Ensure they understand that your plan to transfer knowledge and expertise is essential to the success of the entire business. They should also know the importance of taking the necessary action to soak up and apply this knowledge.

Check out some of our Monday Motivation articles to help empower and engage young leaders.

Supply your senior leaders and emerging talent with the tools necessary to share this information. An internal blog or wiki is a great way to do that, but you need to guarantee that they all know how to fully utilize these tools. Mentorship programs, coaching opportunities, or working teams are very effective. If your retirees are interested (which they most likely will be) offer them an instructing role in seminars or workshops. Even as a participant, their involvement will be beneficial.

Prepare for a Mass Baby Boomer Retirement Phase

These are just a few ways to help lessen the impact losing your skilled workers will make. Identify and prioritize the top performers, engage them and work on retention tactics, and more importantly have a plan in place so you can prepare for the separation. Retirement is an exciting time for your senior employees. Let’s make it even better for them by ensuring they leave a legacy behind.

For even more info on baby boomer brain drain, check out these resources.

Baby Boomer Brain Drain [Infographic]

Passing the Torch: 5 Steps for Turning the Baby Boomer Brain Drain into a Brain Trust

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