Millennials & Boomers: Finding A Happy Medium

4 min read
WorkMarket Editorial Team
WorkMarket Editorial Team
Millennials & Boomers: Finding A Happy Medium

A new corporate brain drain is in full throttle.

Companies are becoming increasingly challenged with productivity imbalances as their most seasoned workers continue to “age out” of the workforce in record numbers. Numerous sources indicate that approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day, so in a week the U.S. workforce will have lost another 70,000 contributors, based on the traditional retirement age. These same companies generally do not have a pipeline in place to attract new talent, and for those that do, chances are these Millennial workers aren’t interested in staying with the same company for 20 years. Recent research from Gallup found that fewer Millennials than non-millennials plan to be working at the same company one year from now, so the danger exists of investing a lot of money to train these younger employees only to have them go work somewhere else.

What’s more, seasoned corporate veterans are generally uninterested and unwilling to mentor Millennials and pass on their institutional knowledge and skills out of fear they may be replaced or forced to retire earlier than planned if the younger generation is brought up to speed. Put another way, the Boomer generation isn’t willing to give up their trade secrets to coach, train or mentor until they are ready to leave the full-time workforce on their own terms — and only if they are incentivized to do so.

These factors are converging to create a new type of corporate brain drain that, if not addressed head on, has the potential to take corporate America by surprise when they realize their best employees are gone and there’s no one there to replace them. And if you do replace them, how can you efficiently solve for the knowledge gap?

The best of both demographics

While Millennials may offer plenty to your organization in terms of their digital nativity, motivation, and energy, there is one thing this burgeoning group lacks compared to their Boomer counterparts – experience. The most strategic companies today are recognizing the need to develop new talent and the best way to do this is by leveraging their existing talent.

These companies are responding to the looming workforce deficiency by building a talent pool that attracts both sides of the demographic spectrum: Boomers who bring their institutional knowledge to the table and Millennials who are looking for flexible work environments tailored to the way they live life.

Leveraging Alumni Talent

Today’s workforce can be operationalized to leverage alumni talent — once they retire and on a contract basis — to bridge the critical skills gap, maintain institutional knowledge, and offer much needed teaching and training. This way, Boomers aren’t threatened by Millennials replacing them, so they are free, and even willing, to foster the skills growth of their younger workforce brethren.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 77 percent of HR professionals agree that older workers have more knowledge and skills than their younger counterparts; and about 70 percent claim that older workers are more mature and professional, with a stronger work ethic than their younger counterparts. Add to this, the level of corporate knowledge and expertise, mentorship and coaching skills they offer, and Boomers begin to look like an incredibly valuable corporate asset – not one that is depreciating.

By embracing a blended, liquid workforce that offer incentivized mentorship programs your company gains:

  • Knowledge retention and transfer for the future
  • Mentorship, coaching and training for the new breed of worker (i.e., Millennials)
  • Better collaboration across business units to create a more connected workforce
  • Documented insights and archived projects (no more re-creating the wheel)
  • Access to trained, specialized talent
  • Cost efficiencies (compared to expensive training programs)

For your Alumni Talent Pool, a blended working environment offers:

  • A sustainable way for them to earn extra cash and supplement retirement savings
  • Meaningful work on an as needed or part-time basis, especially for those who enjoy their work and don’t want to stop
  • A way to stay challenged, productive and relevant

An added bonus of your liquid workforce…

Those Millennials who are so quick to judge a company by their work environments are more likely to want to come work for you – and stay – if you give them the freedom they crave. It’s a win-win for employers, demographically speaking.

Why wait until another 10,000 employees leave the workforce? Keep your best talent while you’ve still got them, so you can continue to nurture the next wave of your even better talent.

Current trends show that the next generation of retirees are planning to work “until they drop.” Make it easier for them with a flexible arrangement that lets them work on their own terms. Email me at [email protected] to take the first step in cultivating a workforce that makes everyone happy, especially you.