My favorite joke this month goes like this: An older gentleman was applying for a job at a youthful organization. The HR Manager, after some discussion, asked, “So what do you feel is your greatest weakness?” The elder gentleman thought for a few moments, then replied – “honesty”. The HR Manager said: “Well, I really don’t think honesty is a weakness”. The older gentleman said – “Well, I really don’t give a sh#t what you think”.
That may be one of the things you get when hiring retired boomers – total honesty, which in many ways can be a good thing.
It is predicted that over the next 15 years, around 70 million Boomers will be retiring. As well, the Conference Board of Canada says that about 60% are planning to return to work. I call them ROCs (retirees on call). According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 approximately 25% of the workforce will be 55 or older.
For this to work, two things need to happen 1) Younger business owners and bosses will need to truly embrace the experience, intellectual capital, and wisdom that ROCs will bring. 2) Boomers will need to lose the attitude that they know everything, and get used to working for managers half their age.
Driving the trend is companies promoting people into management without the necessary tenure or skills training. This has resulted in great workers becoming not so great managers, creating higher staff turnover. As a result, companies will want to tap into the resource pool of Boomers with solid management experience. This means older workers will be more in demand.
Here are some reasons to consider ROCs when looking to fill positions:
- Older workers may not always be as tech-savvy as their younger colleagues, but they have years of experience you can’t teach or replace.
- Older workers are 7% less likely to need personal time off than their younger counterparts. As we now understand, health is not determined by age, but by diet and lifestyle.
- Since older workers are typically more satisfied with their jobs, they stay longer. Seniors work hard, not to compete and win promotions, but for personal fulfillment and organizational success.
To attract older workers, companies need to find ways to accommodate more flexible work schedules. A recent survey highlighted that 75% of older workers said a flexible schedule was “absolutely necessary”.
For those who are planning to re-enter the workforce:
- Until you land another position, stay active. Volunteer in the community; take on jobs just for the experience.
- Network with lots of people (including social media), especially with people in the industry you want to work.
- Don’t demand the same salary with which you retired. Be flexible. Companies base your compensation on contribution to revenue, or cost reduction.
- Management styles are more collaborative than in the past. Don’t try to apply old autocratic behavours to new younger workers.
- Most workers today communicate via Text, Skype, Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceTime, Viber, SnapChat, Messenger, etc. − get with it.
- And finally, never compare or contrast younger co-workers to your children.
There are many benefits to this new trend for both employers and employees. For the workers, it keeps them engaged, socially connected, and healthy. For employers, they benefit from the Boomers’ experience and potentially avoid mistakes that have been made before.
My question for managers this week: “Are you creating a culture where both older and younger workers can work collaboratively, each respecting the others strengths?