Boomer Brain Drain: Are Firms Ready for Mass Retirements?

Boomer Brain Drain: Are Firms Ready for Mass Retirements?

Imagine yourself at the helm of a company that was about to lose its most experienced and hardest working employees.

You’d panic, right?

That might seem like a reasonable response—but it’s definitely not the one today’s employers are having, as an entire generation of Baby Boomers prepares to retire.

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On the contrary, new research finds few companies have concrete plans to retain older workers or to replace them with similarly seasoned staffers.

It’s not that employers don’t recognize Boomers’ value. According to the survey, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, around three-quarters of companies say older workers are more experienced and mature and have a stronger work ethic than other employees.

And yet just 24% of HR professionals surveyed see Boomers’ impending departure as a problem.

What’s more, virtually none (4%) of the employers surveyed said they have formal plans to try keeping older workers around. That could be because many employers find it difficult to retain older staffers when their companies can’t offer flexibility in terms of job type (e.g. reduced hours) or location (e.g. working from home).

Fortunately, some companies are taking measures to ensure that, when Boomers retire, they leave behind some of their knowledge and skills. 54% of companies surveyed said their organizations had begun training programs to transfer knowledge from older to younger workers, while one-third had launched mentoring programs.

A new initiative also aims to help federal employers deal with the loss of their most experienced staff. Last fall, the government began accepting applications for a phased retirement program in which employees work 20 hours a week for half their pay and half their retirement annuity payout. In exchange, they must spend 20% of their time mentoring other federal employees.

Of course, if you’re nearing retirement age, you have other options besides staying at your current company or never working again. Find out how to launch the career you’ve always dreamed of in your golden years.

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