Baby Boomers: Business Bust or Boost?

More than 75 million Baby Boomers will reach retirement age in the next 10 years and only 46 million Generation Xer's follow. This will have a significant impact on America's workforce. In fact, it may be difficult for some companies to find enough qualified applicants to fill the shoes of your departing retirees. One solution might be to take another look at the pool of prospective workers 55 and older including those over 65 who either can't afford or refuse to retire.

To hire and keep those workers, you may need to evaluate your beliefs (whether true or mythical) about older people, and how your established work schedules may be getting product out the door, while sending potential and current workers out the door, too.

Myths about older workers:

  • Myth #1: Older workers are difficult to train, inflexible. If workers seem inflexible about adopting a new process or program, managers should take some additional time to explain how and why the change was made.
  • Myth #2: Older workers lag in technology skills, education.Not true. The fastest -growing group of Internet users are those over 50.The number of seniors taking courses at colleges and universities has risen dramatically in the last decade.
  • Myth #3: Hiring older workers will raise health insurance costs.A recent survey of 10 major employers found the mature workers' impact on the companies' total compensations costs was negligible an average increase of about one percent.

One industry that has successfully adapted its culture to recruit and keep older workers is healthcare. Mercy Health System in Janesville tops AARP's list of the 50 Best Employers for Workers over 50 as reported in the AARP Bulletin September 2006. It has focused its policies and practices on the needs of older workers in recruiting, training, career development, workplace accommodations, employee health and pension benefits, retiree benefits, age diversity and alternative work options, such as flexible scheduling, job sharing and phased retirement.

Overcoming negative perceptions about seniors should be part of your diversity training. You could start your employee culture change by adding some questions about work flexibility options to your annual employee satisfaction survey.

If you would like to receive more information about diversity training or employee satisfaction surveys, give the Business Institute a call at 815.232.3612 or email businessinstitute@highland.edu.

Laurie Gungel
Director,
Highland Community College Business Institute

Train to Know - the Power to Grow


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NOVEMBER 2006