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Boomers: What do you want from (work) life?

January 23, 2015

“There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster…”
Attributed to either Lenny Bruce or a police officer at the scene of his 1966 death

AARP Baby Boomers (Sean McCabe)I’m a baby boomer, born 2/3 into the 18 year window of 1946 to 1964. I can’t even define “aging hipster,” and I don’t think I’ve ever been hip, but given my use of social media well beyond most of my co-workers, maybe I’m an aging social hipster? As my career has evolved on its own trajectory, the ability to make stuff up and advocate for my company is probably driving as much value as anything else I do at work. Still, I won’t do this forever, and while “retirement” isn’t something that interests me, what’s the plan for me and millions of boomers like me?

Kerry Hannon, writing in the Wall Street Journal addresses this topic with New SHRM Survey Finds Organizations Unprepared for Aging Workforce. If you’re a boomer or are at all interested in managing this transition of millions of boomer workers, read it. In a related thread, yesterday I participated in a Kronos tweetchat on the Workforce Institute’s top 5 predictions in workforce management for 2015. You can check out the whole transcript here, but the question most pertinent to this post was:

Baby boomers continue to retire. How can orgs address skills gap & hold onto the knowledge assets of a retiring workforce?

There were some interesting responses. Here are a few:

  • Provide Boomers with exit ramps via part time opportunities
  • Boomers need and want flexible schedules and the ones worth keeping will want continued skills growth opportunities
  • Organizations and employees can start thinking about phased retirement strategies. Allow time for knowledge transfer
  • Hold onto knowledge assets by allowing for phased retirement; tap retirees to fill temp jobs/for people on leave
  • Buddy-up a b’boomer with a newer manager. Give them opportunities to transfer some of the tacit knowledge and feel valued

What are your strategies for retaining your valuable aging hipsters? And if you’re a boomer, what would you like that transition to be like?

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