The Boomers Have Left the Building
Also aptly described as the Grey Resignation and the Silver Tsunami, workers traditionally associated with the Baby Boomers Generation have been leaving the workforce. Or as I like to call it, “The Boomers Have Left the Building”.
Oh sure, they have been subjected to a fair amount of online mockery and possibly workplace ridicule by their Millennial and Gen Z colleagues for just being their age. Not that that makes it the right thing to do.
The phrase ‘OK Boomer’ became a meme that rode the zeitgeist and was a neat and punchy backhanded way to refer to a person as old-fashioned. A pushback, if you will, from the Generation branded ‘snowflakes’ and ‘fragile’, the Generation who doesn’t comprehend what it is ‘to lose’ at anything.
[Author’s Note: Coincidentally, being a Gen X-er myself I have the smug pleasure of being in neither of these camps and the lone distinction of being very adult as a child and bridging the analogue to the digital era with equal aplomb. Amen to that.]
Not to mention the political burgeoning resentment from the newest Generation that Boomers are primarily to blame for climate change and economic inequality, pinning most complaints on this most industrious of Generations.
But no, that’s not the real reason for the Grey Resignation. They’re made of tougher stuff than a bit of meme-trending name-calling. So exactly why are they leaving the workplace in droves?
What are the driving forces?
Consider that in the UK alone over 250,000 over-50s workers left since the pandemic started. There are without a doubt plenty of other reasons behind the less talked-about walkout.
COVID (Part One)
The pandemic prompted a sudden realisation for many people, not just the 50+ workforce, that there was a different way to be able to work. Most might have thought of remote working before as some flash-in-the-pan modern attempt to change the workplace. But when most people had no other option it proved to be an exposure to an approach that suddenly seemed like an appropriate fit.
CHANGES IN MANAGEMENT/COST CUTTING (essentially COVID – Part Two)
It may have been a general feeling that Boomers were going to be more receptive to voluntary redundancies with lockdowns. Or pressured, actually, since they were closer to retirement age.
The more mature employees were encouraged to retire while younger colleagues may have been offered furlough.
There is also a case for staff with seniority and longevity within a company having higher wages than newcomers. Deciding that these employees are expendable is a false economy we discuss shortly.
There is a sub-cohort known as the ‘sandwich generation’ who care for their parents and also potentially factor into caring for grandchildren. No mean feat, and one situation that may have led to leaving the workforce earlier than intended.
FIELD SERVING AND TECHNICIAN SECTORS (and finally, COVID – Part Three)
Some key sectors like field service engineers and maintenance technicians didn’t have the option to remain at home. During the pandemic, this accelerated the number of people leaving when these professions tend to be older and were more susceptible to the health risks of working during the pandemic.
Why should you as a business owner care about the Boomer Generation exiting the workforce?
Turns out that there are quite a few reasons businesses in just about every sector should furrow their brows and get at least a little bit of sweat on.
The over 50s have valuable knowledge to pass on to newer generations. They are skilled ‘hands-on workers’ who are often technical, and methodical, and who are often able to well-train newcomers. Seasoned staff is not straightforward to replace and can hit a business hard once this realisation happens.
Another great phrase for this? A skills drain.
There is also the intangible cost of losing workers who have built long-term and wide-ranging relationships with clients, customers, and suppliers.
Legacy systems are not easy to retrain and can cause little earthquakes in organisations when an entire demographic heads for the door.
What can businesses do to minimise the Boomer exodus?
If a company knows where the holes in its bucket are, and the underlying reasons for employees leaving then it can take steps to affect change.
But it is important to realise that flexible working options and remuneration packages are not going to be seen as positive across the board and age groups of your workforce. Tailoring to different generational needs and making it the most attractive it can be to encourage employee retention is required here.
A key word here is flexibility. What motivates an employee at 25 is not the same as an employee aged 50+. Options for part-time working, job-sharing, project-related and hybrid remote opportunities are all possible solutions for the forward-thinking business.
Many workers in the Boomer generation are no longer looking for career advancement, it’s often more about paying it forward on their own terms.
Employees of all ages have now had varying degrees of work freedom and autonomy and most never want to look back to the old days. Myself included!
What can Tricres offer?
Have you considered leaving or already left your job and have a wealth of knowledge you could share from your inimitable wisdom?
Would you like to work as and when you want, and ~give your professional sector the support they need to help them grow and succeed? Oh, and make some substantial financial gains in the process?
Then you may want to visit www.escape9to5coaching.com to sign up for our free online workshop telling you how easy it could be in as little as three months for the full qualification.