Baby Boomers, Gen Xers Collide At The Retirement Door

DALLAS, Texas (March 31, 2009) -- As unemployment numbers continue their worrisome climb, and as the stock market moves erratically up and down with so many retirement plans hanging in the balance, I have been thinking lately about the much anticipated shift in the workforce -- as Baby Boomers retire they will be replaced by eager Gen-Xers. For years workforce gurus and insurance actuarial analysts have been proclaiming the arrival of this moment in time. Now that the time has finally arrived, I have some advice for my younger colleagues who are anxious to take over: not so fast!

In case no one has noticed, the Baby Boomers have suffered a little setback in their retirement planning. “My generation’s 401-K accounts are now a 101-K," quipped a speaker at last week's ACHE congress in Chicago.

A senior McKinsey Partner, speaking recently in Dallas, announced that he has joined the 2030 Club -- it would be at least the year 2030 before he could afford to retire.

That these are clever lines to mask the crying and gnashing of teeth is assuredly one of this year’s great truths. However, there is another implication that has escaped news coverage. As Baby Boomers prolong their careers, the pace of turnover and promotion will almost certainly slow. In fact, you may even see a surplus of talent in certain critical industries, some analysts project.

All I can say is that in a time of stress and economic suffering, I am one lucky guy. I love what I do. I am passionate about helping clients build high performance leadership teams. I am, I hope, in good health although one is never quite certain. I still have plenty of energy for the grueling life of a road warrior. All of these things are relevant because I finally broke down and looked at my retire account reports. In my case there was actually a combination of nausea and acid reflux versus the gnashing of teeth and wailing.

Oh yes, I just added membership in the 2030 Club to the affiliations section on my resume.

John G. Self, Chairman and Founder of JohnMarch Partners, is the Firm’s senior client advisor. A 32-year veteran of the healthcare industry, he is a former investigative reporter and crime writer for a major daily newspaper. Candidates and clients say he is one of the most thorough executive recruiters working in the healthcare industry. You can reach John at JGSelf@johnmarch.com. His office number is 214.220.1234. You can also follow him on Twitter.

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