Dealing With An Aging Workforce

Dealing With An Aging Workforce
Portrait of a senior business man attending a conference with the rest of his business team

Let’s face it. We’re getting older. The first baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011 and for the next 15 years 10,000 boomers will turn 65 each and every day.

There have been warnings for years about the unprecedented loss of knowledge and expertise that will occur when the baby boomers retire – which could bring a potentially catastrophic effect on businesses and government.

I know that I don’t need to say it but that’s a huge number, and as employees leave companies in droves, employers across all industries and professions will feel the impact.

Yes, we’ve all heard that many boomers will remain employed because the economic recession, coupled with the crash in the housing market, depleted their retirement savings.

We’ve also heard that boomers, well, they see themselves differently (sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll anyone?!) and won’t be put “out to pasture” anytime soon, choosing instead, to stay in the workforce.

Regardless, the plain truth is that aging workers have started to leave the workforce electing instead to work part-time, turn hobbies into paid pursuits and explore other means to bridge the financial gap between what they may have saved for retirement and what they truly need to live.


But that’s neither here nor there for employers. What’s critical is that in many companies a significant percentage of their workforce, their experienced knowledge workers, will be exiting their companies, if not now, then sometime soon.

And that can have catastrophic results for business continuity. But there’s no need to panic and, in fact, there are steps that you can take right now to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

Here are some action steps that should be implemented:

  • Do a census of your own company and assess the demographics of your workforce. What percentage of your staff are 50+ and what positions do they occupy?
  • Make certain that you have complete documentation of everyone’s tasks and responsibilities and how the staff interacts (i.e. who does what to whom!). If you don’t have accurate job descriptions and comprehensive outlines of all processes and procedures, you will not be able to effectively recruit, hire and onboard new employees as the older ones leave.
  • Create a training program for each department, ensuring that new hires can be brought up to speed as quickly as possible. This includes all levels of employees from the top down.

The best time to start is now before you find yourself planning a retirement party for a key employee.

Knowledge is power and the key to business sustainability.

From the February 2014 Unique Business Solutions Newsletter

February 1, 2014