According to a new survey by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources outsourcing company, U.S. employers are facing a troubling talent shortage, with 25 percent of the workforce nearing or at retirement age. “With the rising tide of boomer retirees, employers will be losing key talent at a time when attracting and retaining skilled workers will be more important than ever,” stated Allen Steinberg, a principal at Hewitt Associates.
Talent means the deep knowledge-base, exceptional skill-level, and heightened leadership capacities that come from decades of experience and learning (Boomers are also the best educated generation).
The good news: Companies are finding that the most effective way to combat such a monumental loss that could take years of time and revenues to repair, is to establish a “phased retirement” program, designed to consciously tap and pass down what Boomers know to those who will take their place.
The bad news: Only 5% of those companies have developed a formal program for it.
Fortunately, creating such a program is both an ultimate cost-savings, and relatively simple to implement. “Working with senior management to determine how phased retirement programs will benefit both employers and employees is an important first step. To create a truly successful program, however, it’s critical that employers understand employees’ perspectives,” said Steinberg.
“Gathering formal input from employees through focus groups or other initiatives will enable companies to design programs that can truly help with retention needs—but do so in a cost efficient way. This is particularly important for employers concerned about workers in specific roles or with specialized skills that represent the greatest risk of loss to the organization.”
According to Terri Benincasa, CEO of Benincasa & Associates Coaching & Consulting, “recognizing and acting on this burgeoning problem must be a priority for any company that would rather be spending its time bringing in new business and keeping customers happy, than spending it catching up with its own loss of key information and skill-sets.”
And although many HR professionals and Business Coaches/Consultants have expertise in program development designed to mitigate a company’s vulnerabilities, there are few who specialize in issues of and about Baby Boomers. When companies seek a professional to lead them into and through a successful phased retirement program, it is important they choose someone who has what Benincasa calls “knowledge and experience in all things Boomer.” That includes an understanding of the growing generation gap between Boomers and Millennials so the program design considers how both generations communicate, learn, and respond best to change initiatives.
“When your desired end result is founded in a cross-generational transfer of information, the people you choose to create and implement your phased retirement program must have a comprehensive understanding of the view from both sets of windows, with a handle on the differences and similarities between the two groups. That way, the latter can be optimized, and utilized to ensure the former doesn’t get in the way of a successful outcome.”