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
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.
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