Regardless of whatever is happening in the employment marketplace, there’s one thing that will definitely happen during the next 15 years.
Most of the Baby Boomers in the United States will be phased out of the workforce.
The numbers are fairly startling. According to the Pew Research Center, over the next two decades, 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 years old every day.
Baby Boomers make up roughly 30% of the current workforce. So what we’re talking about is 30% of the U.S. workforce basically disappearing during the next 15 years. That begs the obvious question: who is going to replace all of these people?
5 steps for dealing with the situation
It’s not even just about who is going to replace the people. It’s also about who is going to replace the knowledge that will leave with the people. Face it: Baby Boomers have accumulated not only a ton of experience, but also a ton of expertise. When they retire, they’ll be taking that experience and expertise with them.
There is simply no substitute for experience. Somebody who has only been in the workforce for a short amount of time might be intelligent and savvy, but there’s no way they can immediately accumulate the type of knowledge that only comes with experience.
What your organization needs is a plan for dealing with this impending exodus of Baby Boomers from the workforce. Below are five steps for creating such a plan.
#1—Identify your valued employees most likely to retire.
This should be a relatively easy exercise. However, it’s a crucial one. The problem is that many organizations wait too long to do this, and by the time they realize that valued employees are retiring, it’s too late. They haven’t done anything to prepare for such a contingency, and they lose out—in more ways than one. You should know who among your top employees is close to retirement age.
#2—Meet with these employees to discuss their plans.
Knowing what these employees plan to do is another crucial step. Perhaps they consider retirement to be many years in the future. Maybe they plan to retire next year. No matter the case, you can’t prepare for what they’re going to do if you don’t have any idea what they’re going to do. If these truly are among your most valued employees, then you should already have a close working relationship with them.
#3—Create a process for knowledge transfer.
Yes, you might hire somebody to replace them once they’re gone. But you still want to keep the knowledge that they have! Hiring somebody to sit in the same chair in which they sat might not get you very far. Cross-training is a common practice within many organizations. This is essentially the same thing, although the goal is to cross-train with the purpose of transferring knowledge from one employee to another before they retire and knowledge literally walks out the door.
#4—Decide who, if anybody, will succeed them from within.
If you’ve successfully conducted a knowledge transfer, then perhaps you have viable candidates from within. If so, you must identify those candidates well before the retirements take place. That way, the process can be relatively smooth and effective. However, this must be done before embarking upon a formal search. It’s disruptive to the whole process to decide at the 11th hour that you already have a viable candidate within your ranks.
#5—Begin to consider and implement hiring options.
Perhaps there are no viable internal candidates. The possibility of this increases if you have multiple employees who are reaching retirement. If that’s the case, then you must put initiate and execute a hiring process designed to identify and recruit the candidates that are necessary to replace the employees that have retired. As is the case with any hiring process, it must be comprehensive, collaborative, and streamlined to ultimately be effective.
The allure of retiree restaffing
One of the hiring options that you might want to consider is that of retiree re-staffing. We’ve discussed this topic before, and with good reason. In a retiree restaffing situation, the employee officially retires, and then you bring them back on a contract basis. That way, you can still retain their knowledge and buy yourself some time.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to carry out the five steps listed above, hiring the retiree on a contract basis will afford you the luxury of doing so. In fact, there are benefits associated with retiree restaffing for both the organization and the employee, four of which are outlined below:
- The organization can retain the experience and expertise that might have otherwise been lost, which we’ve already discussed.
- The organization can arrange to have that knowledge and expertise transferred to other workers, which we’ve also discussed.
- The retiree/contractor can maintain a flexible work schedule, which is quite important to them at this point in their career.
- The retiree/contractor can earn money to supplement their retirement income.
When it comes to the impending retirement of the Baby Boomers and the subsequent loss of their experience and expertise, you need options. Specifically, you need hiring options. Re-hiring those retirees on a contract basis is one of those options, and it’s one that can provide you with tremendous flexibility.
But even if you’re not planning to use retiree restaffing as an option, your company must have a hiring plan and process in place to deal with the disappearance of the Baby Boomers. They must be replaced, and they must be replaced without a tremendous loss to your organization.
The VET Recruiter has experience placing both direct hire and contract candidates. We understand the challenges that organizations face and we understand the challenges of the Baby Boomer situation. We offer options to help you overcome these challenges, and we’d love to discuss those options with you.
We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.