The "seasoning" of the Boomer generation presents a multiplicity of challenges for employers. It's not just that many people will retire within the next decade - that's real and will create recruitment issues - but there will be other changes coming as well. Among these:
- Many people will want to continue working well past what was the normal retirement age, some for financial reasons but many others because our work gives our lives meaning.
- Stereotypes about older workers will be challenged - expect an increase in human rights complaints about ageism - and conventional assumptions about work, retirement and older workers will change as this large demographic continues to shape social and workplace norms.
- Employers can expect requests for alternative work arrangements - flexible hours, days, transitional arrangements into retirement and so on.
I think we are in a good position to turn the challenges into opportunities. If we focus on creating the kind of workplace culture where people can do what they love and be good at it, that will guide us to solutions before the problems develop.
The opportunity to do work you love and do it well is a powerful value proposition - a quite different conception of the relationship between people and their work. It can help us cope with vacancies created by retiring employees by helping current employees grow into new or more challenging roles.
When we need to recruit externally, it will make our job opportunities more appealing to external applicants. It will enable us to provide meaningful work to those who want to do some "victory laps" with us. It will help build relationships between the generations (imagine the opportunities for mentoring and sharing of knowledge that this kind of workplace culture may enable).
So there is a lot of potential for good things to come of what is widely believed to be a looming crisis. But we will need to be open to possibilities. As a first step I would like to get a fuller understanding of the career and work goals and interests of people who work at Douglas so we can start to get our heads around what we in HR can do to help create the conditions where people can do great work. That's the first step in creating a plan around this issue.
Wanda's article originally appeared on Yammer. If you haven't joined Yammer yet, you can sign up right now using your douglascollege.ca email account.