Is Talent Acquisition Prepared for the Retirement Boom?

The Baby Boomer generation, once the largest age group participating in the workforce, is coming of age.  I don't mean that in a John Hughes movie sort of way.  I do mean that they're approaching their desired retirement age.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, every 10th worker in the United States is eligible for retirement this year or next.  If losing 10 percent of your existing workforce sounds scary, here's what's even scarier- many employers have not adequately prepared for this coming retirement boom. Many employers have not yet prepared their Talent Acquisition strategy nor have they adequately prepared themselves for knowledge transfer. Absent these strategies, the STEM industries will be hit particularly hard as they are still struggling with a skills gap.  How will Talent Acquisition respond? 

Talent Acquisition Gets Savvy

In order to meet the new challenges posed by mass exodus of the Baby Boomers from the job market, Talent Acquisition will have to get savvy.  New strategies, new solutions, and new approaches will have to be woven together to ensure recruiting success for employers. Consider the following strategies that Talent Acquisition can embrace to ensure recruiting success:

  • Hiring contingent workers. In healthcare, health systems have already embraced hiring healthcare contingent workers.  With pending nursing shortages and an increase of 26% in nursing demand this year alone, health systems have increased their use of contingent workers by another 34%, according to healthcare MSP RightSourcing. Talent Acquisition should take note that hiring contingent workers has been successful in many industries and professions such as healthcare, enterprise businesses, and technology.  Employers have formed partnerships with staffing suppliers and managed service providers (MSP's) as alternative hiring strategies. Under this model, hiring contingent workers allows employers to evaluate workers for hard to fill positions, enhancing productivity, and relieving existing staff of burdens such as forced overtime. If this is not yet on your Talent Acquisition strategy radar, it should be.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 40% of our current workforce can be classified as contingent workers- from freelancers to travelling nurses.  These projections are expected to grow significantly as the demand for experience and qualified talent increases with the retirement boom. 
  • Strategic analytics.  We talk a lot about how strategic analytics, or Big Data is impacting HR and Talent Acquisition.  To adequately respond to the retirement boom, Talent Acquisition's strategy will need to be rooted in solid quantifiable data.  Employers will need to know what percentage of their workforce will potentially be lost using data gained from strategic analytics. This data will inform hiring decisions by offering insight into existing employees, market rate intelligence, budget allocation, cost containment and staffing forecasting.  Using strategic analytics, many employers are better able to make hiring choices well in advance, reducing hiring costs and enhancing access to qualified candidates.  As technology continues to improve our access to and use of strategic analytics, Talent Acquisition will be better able to respond to the pending retirement boom.
  • Conversion to statement of work consultants.  As Baby Boomers seek to leave their 9 to 5's, a great transition strategy is to keep them on in a limited capacity, engaging them as statement of work (SOW) consultants. Keeping these workers on in a limited capacity ensures employers' access to their bank of knowledge isn't lost, but also poses potential minefields.  Careful consideration should be given to risk mitigation as workers are transferred.  This could include 1099 analysis and compliance reviews prior to hiring them as SOW workers. 
  • Expanding your talent pool. The most successful hires in any organization are usually attributed to referred employees. By soliciting employee referrals and expanding talent pools now, employers will be able to obtain access to a pool of qualified candidates that can be recruited faster and ideally stay longer. Talent Acquisition will be challenged with expansion beyond simply asking for employee referrals. Strategies such as looking beyond geographic borders, mobile recruiting, and seeking out talented candidates in other industries will all be critical to expanding talent pools. 

The pending retirement boom will challenge Talent Acquisition with adapting to the changing market place for talent.  New strategies and tools will have to be considered to have a meaningful impact on the way in which we hire to replace our aging workforce. 

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