My initial thoughts on the pending dilemma of retiring Baby Boomers within my industry were that of alarm. The knowledge and skill set that would be lost is an issue that most US institutions face daily. My background is in the engineering field where I have always worked with the Utility, Industrial, and Government markets.
Therefore, when I work for a company that averages 36% of their workforce being Baby Boomers, I find myself cringing. Anyone who works in a diverse age group of people (or to be politically correct, we’ll call it a “multigenerational” workforce) know that these work environments can breed misunderstanding and conflict and may compromise growth.
And as I begun thinking this dilemma through, a few points cropped in this crazy blonde brain of mine….that’s right, I do have real moments of clarity at times!
- With the financial and economic crisis these past few years, many soon-to-be retirees are choosing to stay employed.
- The trend of salaries for Baby Boomers is significantly higher than that of entry level employees. Therefore, my company is noticing a decrease in project awards due to the fact we are out pricing ourselves with our competitors.
- With the Baby Boomers continuing to work longer, we are not bringing in younger employees to mentor out of college. The employee pool is becoming stagnant.
So what is the answer? Is the issue of retiring Baby Boomers really a crisis or is it just an adjustment period for employers to incorporate new blood? Dave Bernard of U.S. News stated that retirement can be a time to explore creative new avenues, and put the skills you have cultivated throughout your career to work in new ways (June, 2012).
He is dead on when I notice that many retirees are returning back into the engineering field as “consultants” or they are reducing their hours to continue their insurance coverage and reducing their pace a little.
However, the demands on today’s knowledge workers are more mental than physical. Many baby boomers, who have already begun to reach age 65, are far from physically exhausted and often have much more to give (Bernard, 2012).
Whatever happens, the baby boom retirement crisis is bound to have its unexpected turns. As they age, they’ll surely continue to change the economy, though the effects are hard to predict (Gelinas, 2011). Employers today must strategize on how to best incorporate the knowledge skills from these employees through Mentoring programs or Internships.
Ultimately, we must stay competitive in the marketplace to keep the jobs here at home.
Bernard, D. (2012, June). Baby Boomers Search for Second Careers. U.S. News. (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/On-Retirement/2012/06/01/baby-boomers-search-for-second-careers).
Gelinas, N. (2011, November). As baby boomers retire, the times will be a-changin.’ The Los Angeles Times. (http://articles.latimes.com/2011/nov/06/opinion/la-oe-gelinas-baby-boomers-retire-20111106).
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ABOUT THE BLOGGER
Brandi Reilly currently works for Mesa Associates, Inc., a multidiscipline engineering design firm based out of Knoxville, TN. Her experience spans 16 years in engineering, project management, and consulting services. She graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and recently completed her MBA at Lincoln Memorial University in 2011. She has completed her Project Management Professional (PMP) accreditation and is currently pursuing her Professional Engineering (PE) license.
(c) 2012 by Dr. Daryl D. Green