On the one hand, it’s not that surprising, given the changes in modern culture and our nation’s economy during the last 10 years. However, it’s a little disconcerting, as well. After all, there was some comfort to be taken in the knowledge that after a certain amount of time in the workforce, you could retire and enjoy your “Golden Years” in relative peace and tranquility.
These days, that scenario is no longer the rule. It’s the exception.
So—what, exactly, does that mean for you as an executive recruiter?
How we got here
For the past several years, there has been much talk about the retirement of the Baby Boomer Generation. However, the retirement of this generation has to be viewed in a different context than it was viewed several years ago. When it was first being bantered about, talk revolved around a mass retirement of workers, one which would leave a huge void in the United States workforce. This, in turn, would usher in a “Golden Age” for recruiters, with companies in all industries clamoring to fill countless open positions.
In short, there would be too many jobs and not enough candidates—on a huge scale. The possibility existed for a candidates’ market the likes of which nobody had ever witnessed before. However, a problem arose on the way there, mainly that people aren’t retiring like they were expected to retire. More specifically, some are retiring later than projected and some aren’t retiring at all. Are these trends expected to continue as the Baby Boomers hit retirement age? Absolutely, and that’s why you should be aware of the options—and opportunities—that are available.
How Boomer will actually retire when they’re 65 is anybody’s guess. What is known is that some of them will explore other options, and the options that they choose could present you as a recruiter with opportunities to grow your services and your firm. However, let’s look first at some of the reasons why Baby Boomers might not ride off into the sunset as previous generations have.
1. Retirement bores them—Sure, it’s great for a while, but eventually they begin to miss the challenges that came with employment, not to mention the camaraderie of co-workers. Besides, you can only play golf or tend to your garden for so long, and traveling can cost a lot of money.
2. They can’t afford to retire—This reason is becoming more and more prevalent. Let’s face it. Many retirees haven’t positioned themselves correctly for retirement, and the fact that the economy is in the midst of a recession isn’t exactly helping matters.
3. The rising cost of healthcare—This all by itself is a strong incentive for people to stave off retirement, especially now that pension plans are slowly being eradicated.
4. The Social Security dilemma—Will Social Security money eventually run out? If so, when? Just something else to weigh on the minds of people approaching retirement age.
The retirees’ point of view
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), more than 80% of the retired or soon-to-be retired Baby Boomers plan to work in some capacity during their “retirement.” What that capacity entails will be specific to each person and their situation. However, some patterns have already started to emerge. By understanding these patterns and planning for them, you can benefit from the re-writing of the retirement rules.
1. Lifers—These are people who simply choose to continue working past a certain age, and plan to continue working for the foreseeable future.
2. Boomerangers—These people retire for a year or two and then re-enter the workforce. Their re-entry may be on a full-time or a part-time basis.
3. Advisers—These people transition straight from a full-time job to a part-time position, one that taps into their considerable knowledge and experience.
4. Trailblazers—Then there are those who transition straight to a part-time job in a completely different field than the one in which they completed nearly a lifetime of service. This is a group that’s clearly looking for a challenge and a way in which to continue growing and expand their horizons.
Do these people still want to work? Absolutely. Do they still want to work full-time? Not necessarily. With the exception of the Lifers, all of the groups listed above enjoy the flexibility of working on a part-time or contract basis. This allows them to enjoy their “retirement” and to spend more time with their friends and families (or engaging in their favorite hobbies), while at the same time using their experience and skills to earn some extra cash. In essence, they’re still working or they’re returning to work—but with one important caveat—they’re doing it on their own terms.
The companies’ point of view
Now we should turn our attention to the other half of this equation, namely the client companies that hire retirees who return to the job market. How much are these companies interested in hiring retirees and in what capacity do they prefer to employ them?
Let’s backtrack for just a moment. Although the Baby Boomers aren’t all going to retire en masse, as was thought a few years ago, the majority of them are going to retire. That’s still going to leave quite a void in the job market. As a result, companies are going to lose a great deal in the way of knowledge, experience, and expertise, all things that contribute positively to their bottom line. So there will most definitely be a demand for hiring retirees—in fact, there already is one.
By viewing the situation from the point of view of company officials, we can more readily understand why retirees can be an important resource, as well as a source of productivity. Below are some reasons why companies find hiring retirees an attractive option:
1. Experience—We’re talking about experience not only within the company, but in the industry, as well.
2. Work ethic—Baby Boomers are renowned for their work ethic. In many cases, work was the core of their life.
3. Mentoring capabilities—The effect that a retirees’ presence can have on the rest of the company’s employees is immeasurable, especially if they’ve worked there in the past.
4. Perspective—“Immediate Gratification Syndrome” seems to have a firm grip on American culture. Retirees remember when that wasn’t the case. Their ability to put things into a long-term perspective will help to balance out your team.
As you can see, retiree re-staffing is quite attractive to companies, especially when viewed in the context of a candidate-short market. They possess both tangible and intangible skills and qualities that can greatly impact the culture, direction, growth, and productivity of any company.
Your point of view
So now you know what retirees want from companies and what companies want from retirees. The only thing left to do is to match one with the other. Here’s the best part: not only can you make direct-hire placements because of the retirement of the Baby Boom Generation, you can make contract placements as a result of it, as well.
Making the decision to add contract staffing to your current business model is the first step in positioning yourself to profit fully from retiree re-staffing. And there are other benefits associated with making contract placements. These benefits include setting yourself up as a “sole-source provider” with your clients, creating and cultivating more loyalty with them, building more flexibility into your desk, generating additional streams of revenue, and enjoying more peace of mind.