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Workplace Insights: Give the Baby Boomers a Chance

July 16, 2014

Baby Boomers is the name of the generation born between 1946 and 1964. One of my pet peeves, as a proud member of the “baby boomer” generation, is how some workplaces ignore the unique ways in which “mature” workers can benefit their employers.  The thinking is that older workers are set in their ways, have not kept up with industry changes and are unproductive.  Reality is quite different from this perception.

A Growing Presence

A brief glance at statistics should persuade smart employers to take a second look at older workers. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“the Bureau”), in 2000 about one in eight American workers were older than age 55. By 2010, that number had jumped to one in five.  The Bureau projects that by year 2020, this group will comprise a full quarter of the labor force.

The Distinguished Generation

Many qualities distinguish older workers, and they may not be so obvious.

1. As a group, older workers are very reliable and have great attendance and punctuality records.

2. They take ownership of their jobs, are motivated and have a global perspective of their responsibilities.

3. Seasoned employees tend to be quite loyal, and they usually stick with their employer longer.

4. Older workers are surprisingly adapting to new technology and the contemporary workplace at an impressive rate.

The Practical Business Reasons

In addition to these reasons, many employers actively recruit mature employees for very practical business reasons:

1. Mature workers are wonderful mentors, and enthusiastically impart their knowledge.

2. They often phase out their retirement, facilitating valuable part-time schedules, creating smooth transitions for replacements.

3. Older workers bring a significant amount “life knowledge” to their jobs, adding an important practical dimension to their decision-making process.

4. Their financial needs are often lower than younger employees, because they frequently have fewer dependents and can supplement their income through Social Security payments.

Higher Education

An important difference between today’s older workers and their parents, who came of age during World War II, is the boomer generation’s level of education.  The boomers’ parents saved to send them to college and graduate school. The current level of education of boomers is remarkably similar to younger employees.

Give the Boomers a Chance

In short, it makes professional and business sense to take a second look at your boomers.  Examine their talents and see how they can uniquely contribute to your bottom line. They represent a great treasure that you cannot afford to pass up.

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