Tips to Manage Boomer Retirement

The shift in workplace demographics is finally upon us.

Industry experts predict that the wave of boomer retirements kicks off in 2013. An estimated 10,000 boomers turn age 66 each day (the official Social Security retirement age), which translates to 300,000 employees per month! Skills, knowledge, experience, and relationships walk out the door every time somebody retires—and there is a significant cost to replace them.

HR leaders have been talking about the pending crisis for years and have been putting programs in place. Bottom line: Organizations are going to be challenged to find high performing talent and need to focus on engaging and retaining their current employees, market their brand to attract new talent and effectively transition their boomer talent.

Phased Retirement

Smart companies have developed phased retirement programs that incorporate knowledge transfer, fewer hours, remote work and sometimes even a shift in responsibilities. Phased retirement helps address the financial needs of the company and its employees. The government is proposing new rules for a new phased retirement option in government, under which an employee could choose to work part time while receiving a partial retirement benefit.

A colleague at a Fortune 100 insurance company estimates that 38% of their employees are retirement eligible. If they all leave at once, it will be like the organization has Alzheimer’s! To be effective, phased retirement programs should address critical departments and be carefully tailored to appeal most to top talent.

Flexible Work Arrangements- Part-time or Remote work

A growing proportion of older employees are looking for ways to “stay in the game” and continue to contribute past the traditional retirement years. Unfortunately, scores of employees have not adequately saved or are rebuilding their savings after the financial crisis of 2009, and thus are forced to work. Studies show that 20% of boomers collecting employer pensions are still working in some capacity, and among people under 60 who are already collecting pensions, more than 50% are working.

Flexible work arrangements, including part-time, remote work, reduced workweek, etc. provides employers continued access to boomer skills while meeting their mobility needs. Call centers are actively recruiting seniors to work during the peak hours, creating a win-win for both. A good friend recently moved to a retirement community in North Carolina but continues to work remote three days a week.

Companies need to have the technology, infrastructure and processes in place to support work-at-home or work-from-anywhere programs. Many companies leveraged social collaboration software to communicate and connect geographically dispersed workers- sharpening an organizations’ effectiveness. Bottom line- talented close-to-retirement boomers will want to continue to work on their own terms and employers need to provide flexibility.

The swell of boomer retirements will dramatically impact the workplace. How is your organization managing boomer retirement? What creative programs have you put in place? I look forward to your comments.

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.


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