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Posted: June 10, 2011

Top three tips to get the best from Boomers

Here's how to delay the "brain drain"

Evan Abbott

Baby Boomers are hitting retirement age in record numbers - 10,000 are turning 65 each day. But don't expect them to exit the workforce simply because they've reached a certain age.

A recent Associated poll found that 1 in 4 Boomers currently working don't plan to retire. Another quarter said they planned to retire sometime between 66 and 70. Still many Boomers say they hope to keep working in some capacity even after they've quit their full-time jobs.

So what does that mean for employers who are trying to figure out how to manage the changing workforce? Well, the good news is that the "brain drain" that organizations expected to occur once Boomers started retiring might be delayed, giving employers more time to prepare and possibly prevent a loss of knowledge.

The situation also presents an opportunity for employers to find new ways to utilize more experienced, older workers. Here are a few tips for tapping the Boomers' skills as they transition into retirement:

• Offer flexible work schedules: The Boomers' idea of retirement doesn't necessarily involve sitting idly on the front porch. At the same time, many Boomers want a break from the pressure and fast pace of their current positions. They want to stay engaged in the workforce, but they don't want the same level of responsibility. A job share, part-time schedule or contract position could offer Boomers the balance they're seeking. These types of flexible work arrangements can also serve as a good alternative to traditional cost-cutting measures, such as layoffs.

• Consider consulting arrangements: For some Boomers, retirement may offer an opportunity to start their own businesses. A 2007 Ipsos Reid study of retired Boomers showed that more than a quarter (27 percent) were serving as consultants or planned to become consultants. The arrangement makes sense because it allows Boomers to contribute their knowledge and experience to organizations while remaining independent. Employers, meanwhile, can gain tremendous insight and don't have to pay for benefits and other additional costs that are incurred when hiring someone as a full-time employee.

• Create Partnerships: In some ways, Boomer workers and their Millennial counterparts (born between 1981 and 2000), are a great match. Millennials thrive on coaching and teamwork and Boomers love challenges and have abundant skills and knowledge to share. Pairing these generations of workers may help prevent a knowledge loss within the organization and could boost morale among younger workers seeking mentorship.

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Evan Abbott is the Director of Organizational Development and Learning at Mountain States Employers Council.

Evan Abbott is the Director of Organizational Development and Learning at Mountain States Employers Council. He holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Arizona State University and a master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Colorado at Denver. In addition to his work at MSEC, Evan teaches courses in Research Methods, Psychology, and Organizational Behavior in the College of Professional Studies at Regis University.


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