There is growing concern in the workplace.  According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach the retirement age of 65 every day for the next 20 years.  While many will continue to work past 65, approximately 72% of employers surveyed by AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) have growing concerns about how to address this generation’s retirement. Baby Boomer retirement presents a particular problem for employers because they carry with them a great deal of knowledge that may be retiring with them. This can contribute to a significant skills gap in the workplace.  Replacing this generation of workers will not be easy, but it's important for HR and Talent Acquisition to have a sound strategy in place.

Strategies to Close the Skills Gap

To close a skills gap, HR and Talent Acquisition need to be in alignment with a solid strategy.  This will necessitate multiple areas of the business- recruiting, training, engagement and workforce planning. It won't be an easy overnight fix, but employers concerned about the skills gap will be better prepared.  Find out what strategies will help your team to overcome the skills gap:

  • Prepare a succession plan.  Workforce planning will be an important strategy to address the skills gap that retiring Baby Boomers will leave. Employers will need to prepare for retirement at multiple levels- executive, director, and management levels all could be potentially disrupted.  Start the workforce planning early and identify employees that will be able to take on these roles in the organization.  Identify where the company may need to bring in outsiders and what skills may need to be developed to meet the needs of key roles.
  • Develop a training plan.  Many Baby Boomers have legacy knowledge and skills that are critical to the health of the organization.  This could include legacy client knowledge, technology skills, and more.  Prior to retirement, HR has an opportunity to develop a training program that passes on this critical knowledge to existing employees. Employers will benefit in multiple ways- developing junior employees, increasing transparency in client account management, and enhancing the organization's technical skills. It's important to establish this training plan early in order to successfully pass this knowledge along prior to Baby Boomer retirement.
  • Enhance client management. When retiring employees have legacy client data, this may not be known to all employees.  It's important to implement a new client relationship management (CRM) tool and to enter as much known client data as possible.  While this can help lessen the skills gap a retiring Baby Boomer could create, it can also strengthen the way in which the entire organization services clients. Create cross- functional teams to identify what needs to be represented, who will require access, and how this will be updated.
  • Develop a talent acquisition plan.  Replacing talent is no easy task, especially when the wrong hire could potentially increase the skills gap.  Talent Acquisition should develop a plan for hiring new highly skilled employees in an efficient and cost effective manner. Using tools such as video interviews, Talent Acquisition has the opportunity to reach broader pools of talent and reduce both the cost of hiring and the time to hire.
  • Prepare current employees.  Preparing for Baby Boomer retirement will necessitate a comprehensive employee engagement plan. Employee engagement is important for the company to tackle a potential looming skills gap together.  Engaged employees are better able to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills.  Management may be surprised at how well the company can pull together to ease the transition.

With a little planning, employers can help lessen the impact of retiring Baby Boomers. Together, the team can help proactively address a looming skills gap and overcome potential areas of weakness. The key is to prepare for Baby Boomer retirement in advance so the organization has time to react together with well thought out strategies and tactics.

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