Here are some key workforce statistics worthy of your attention.
The first wave of Baby Boomers reached retirement age in 2011. And in 2029, all Boomers will be of retirement age. This experienced segment of the working population is already starting its exodus, and for the next 20 years, an estimated 10,000 boomers will retire each day.
Although these numbers are staggering, we have to take a step back and assess not only the workforce gap, but perhaps more importantly, the gap in knowledge and industry know-how this could create.
With over half of leadership positions in the US workforce held by Boomers, and four million companies with Baby Boomers at the helm, it’s time to start strategizing about how to leverage a trickle-down effect between your older employees and those poised to replace them, especially since a recent Gallup poll found that one in three American workers are Millennials.
Here are some tips to start capturing the fountain of knowledge before it runs dry.
Start crunching the numbers
It’s imperative to know your employee population and start creating succession plans for those employees nearing retirement. Start dialogue early, five to 10 years before normal retirement age so you can foster relationships and potentially pair your almost-retiree with a mentee. (According to research, 75 percent of Millennials want a mentor.) Think about building diverse teams that are multigenerational to nurture these relationships, create trust and encourage knowledge sharing. Open and honest dialogue helps reduce the likelihood of a surprise early retirement or bruised egos.
Rev up training programs
Along with diversifying your teams, start actual training programs with leaders and retiring employees. The learning curve could be steep in certain departments, so be sure you look at your entire population — not just those at the top but the key players that made advancements to your product, customer or employee retention strategies, or your sales techniques.
Sharing is caring
Creating a work environment with empathy at the core is key to a culture that is open to sharing professional and institutional knowledge. If employees feel threatened or they are feeling insecure about their position, they may start hoarding information. Fostering teams that document and share their successes, failures, and processes not only helps those looking for a refresher but allows new hires to get a full picture of how their team works. Don’t only target retiring employees to share their work knowledge; be sure to extend this request to all generations. Founder and CEO of Careerminds, Raymond Lee, put it best, “Good organizations create a talent strategy that is a knowledge transfer, not a brain drain.”
Our 2018 State of Workplace Empathy Study revealed that 98 percent of Boomers appreciate flexible working hours. With this in mind, some companies have begun to offer slow transition programs specifically for near-retirees. Studies have shown that not all Americans haven’t saved enough for retirement – so your recently retired employees may become a special kind of boomerang. Once they’ve left the typical 9-5, retired alums may welcome the opportunity to be a consultant or part-timer.
The great Baby Boomer retirement event doesn’t have to be a brain drain; it can instead become a unique stage for knowledge sharing among a 5-generation workforce. The key takeaway is to start early and be empathetic to your employees’ needs in this major life transition.
Read more about how to manage a multigenerational workforce below.