The Baby Boomer generation has started retiring and older workers are becoming increasingly important to our economy, both locally and nationally. Employers should begin thinking creatively about these workers and how to keep them engaged in the workforce.
As these Baby Boomers retire, Georgia faces a new workforce challenge. There are not enough young people coming up behind them to fill the void that will remain. Nationwide, 76 million baby boomers will retire within the next three decades and only 45 million members of Generation X are moving up to fill those spots. To make matters worse, our economy will continue growing and adding new jobs in future years.
Across the workforce, well-educated employees with leadership and good communication skills are going to become harder to find. The Echo Baby Boom, or the children of Baby Boomers, will ease that burden somewhat as they begin graduating from college during this time-frame. Unfortunately, they will lack the experience of older workers and there still won’t be enough of them as there are only 64 million in that generation.
Locally, Athens workers have been fortunate to experience comparatively low rates of unemployment, even during the recent recession. While the Georgia economy slowed, Athens businesses fared better and have shown signs of bouncing back faster, especially with the addition of a couple of major employers in 2013. Recruiting qualified employees is becoming more difficult as the best workers have more options now. With creative solutions, older workers are a natural fit for these challenges.
The burden won’t fall entirely on employers in the future. For example, as longevity of life increases, more workers are going to want to stay engaged in the workforce, for both financial and intellectual purposes.
Additionally, outside forces, like the economy and federal deficit may make work essential for many people. The age to collect full Social Security benefits has already risen to age 67 and it is likely to go higher. Congress has even repealed the penalties imposed on workers who choose to work while collecting Social Security.
The shift from traditional pension plans to 401k’s is likely to affect future retirement decisions and the economy of the past few years decimated many Georgia workers’ retirement accounts. It may take a few extra years in the workforce to get the retirement nest egg back to a comfortable level for retirement.
Baby Boomers will work longer if they are comfortable in their day-to-day work routine. Many companies have already begun making ergonomic adjustments to reduce incidents of carpal tunnel syndrome and eye strain. However, these same accommodations will encourage older workers to extend their retirement.
Eyesight declines in older workers and larger computer screens reduce the discomfort of this condition.
Between the ages of 45 and 64 we are five times more likely to experience hearing loss. Companies should consider user-friendly equipment – such as telephones with volume controls.
Arthritic employees will appreciate voice recognition software instead of typing as the capabilities of that technology continue to improve.
Older workers may be interested in a combination of retirement and work by working part-time. Companies that offer flexible schedules will find it easier to take advantage of workers willing to work on their own schedule.
Experienced, older workers may provide excellent insight for special projects or during busier times of the year. Partner with an experienced staffing service, like BOS Staffing, to take advantage of “just-in-time” labor in these instances. Companies get the workers when needed, and the older workers still have time to travel and enjoy life without the day-to-day commitment.
Entrepreneurs will provide an alternative to hiring your own staff. Focus your attention on your company’s areas of expertise. Outsource activities to other companies in your community that specialize in those functions. Their specialty allows them to perform the same work more efficiently.
Forward thinking business owners across Georgia should start planning now for the future labor shortage. Creative thinking today could mean your company’s success tomorrow. For more ideas on how to use creative staffing strategies in your business, call BOS Staffing.