The unstoppable trend in workforce demographics is the increasing importance of millennials and, more recently, Gen Z in the labor pool. These two cohorts already account for over one-third of the U.S. workforce, and will represent well over half the workforce within ten years. This trend has probably been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, based on recent data reported on by Allison Morrow in an article for CNN, which suggests that a combination of COVID fears and financial security has led to millions of Boomers heading for early retirement.
Boomers Now, Finally, Retiring
Although it’s been predicted for years now, member of the boomer generational cohort are now leaving the workforce as has been forecast for years—and their exodus is taking its toll.
“Early retirement — whether forced by the pandemic or made possible otherwise — is having a huge impact on the labor market,” writes Morrow, who reports that retiring boomers and not “lazy millennials, are the group most driving the labor shortage. “People have left the workforce for myriad reasons in the past two years. But among those who have left and are least likely to return, the vast majority are older Americans who accelerated their retirement,” she says. “Last month, there were 3.6 million more Americans who had left the labor force and said they didn't want a job compared with November 2019. A whopping 90% of them were over 55.”
Don’t Overlook the Potential Value of Older Workers
While it’s important to embrace the younger generations that will continue to dominate the American workforce, it’s also important to not neglect the older generations that seem to be leaving the workforce in droves.
While these workers may not represent the long-term future of the labor force, they certainly represent an important element for both the present and the future.
Employees with 30 or 40 years of industry experience can’t be replaced by simply hiring a recent college graduate or even a millennial with 15 years on the job. There’s tremendous value in the heads of those older workers, not to mention the relationships they’ve built over the years with customers, coworkers and partners. Companies are seeing that value evaporate as these workers increasingly seek retirement.
Inclusion is for Everyone
Being inclusive means being inclusive of everyone in the organization. That inclusiveness has genuine and important business benefits. In the case of older workers, businesses that find a way to be inclusive of this group may find themselves in a better position to retain them for longer and leverage their considerable knowledge and experience in preparing for a smooth transition to the future.
Taking proactive steps to retain your high potential baby boomer staff members just might be the most important resolution you could make for 2022.