For years, HR leaders have been focused on how to attract, retain, and engage a multi-generational workforce, and just when HR thinks they have it all figured out, HR is hit with yet another unprecedented challenge.
10,000 Baby Boomers will retire each day for the next two decades. This equates to almost four million retirees per year and of that four million, nearly half are leaving leadership positions. With roughly two million Baby Boomers retiring from leadership positions each year, organizations will need to put a plan together fast to fill the void these Baby Boomers are leaving. Organizations with a high percentage of Baby Boomers are already feeling the effects of the retiring generation:
Loss of wealth of accumulated skills and experience knowledge
When Baby Boomers first entered the workforce, the world of work was a very different place. There wasn’t a “google” to tell you everything you needed to know about a person or a company in a matter of seconds, there was no plugging in an address into Waze for driving directions (and of course the option for alternate routes to avoid traffic or tolls), and the concept of connecting face-to-face with other people across the globe without physically getting on an airplane was unheard of.
Through trial and error, Baby Boomers figured out the best way to succeed in the workplace without relying on technology. The successes and failures that Baby Boomers experienced are just things that simply cannot be taught.
Business relationships and networks cultivated over years
Baby Boomers relied heavily on walking door to door and networking with others to cultivate business relationships. There was not an easy way to connect with professionals in the area and developing any type of strategic relationship took a lot of time, energy, and focus.
For the past few decades, Baby Boomers have maintained relationships with others that may have become very personal, as they have watched each other’s children grow. Decades worth of relationships may now go by the wayside as a result of the Baby Boomers retiring.
First hand recollections about the development of products, services, and marketing strategies.
40% of Baby Boomers have been with their same employer for more than 20 years. A lot can change in two decades and many Baby Boomers have played an influential role in the evolution of an organization. Baby Boomers can use their vast years of knowledge and experience to share insight on why something didn’t work in the past and save an organization from the costly mistake of repeating history.
What does this mean for HR?
By 2020, 60% of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of Millennials and Gen Z. However, 50% of Millennials plan to stay at their current job for more than a year. Not only does HR have to focus on ways to retain these “job hopping” generations, but HR now has to identify, attract, and cultivate younger leadership talent that can take over key positions as the Baby Boomers exit the workforce.
Opportunities to learn and grow is one of the top three factors that Millennials take into consideration when applying for jobs, but they don’t want to wait forever to get to the next step. Here are a few ways in which HR can help to retain the Millennial generation:
Provide Regular Feedback
Spark up conversations with your Millennials and provide constructive feedback, even if it’s in a casual environment. Millennials like real-time feedback. It makes them feel that others are engaged and also offers them the opportunity to learn from veterans in the space who may be able to provide clarity on projects.
Create and Track Opportunities for Career Development
Create a professional plan that outlines the steps required to reach the next step in a career. Included in this career development plan may be things such as certifications, licenses, or other skill sets that pertain to a specific position.
This type of program can really help with not only employee retention, but also knowledge retention and employee engagement. Baby Boomers can transfer knowledge to Millennials and Gen Z, while Millennials and Gen Z can teach the Boomers some new tricks like how to find information faster, or yes- convert that word document into a PDF.
So as we say goodbye and plan retirement parties for our fellow Baby Boomers, we say hello to new opportunities and the exciting challenge of developing the next generation of leaders.
Need some tips to help you plan for the Baby Boomer’s exit? Check out these sources: