Navigating baby boomer retirement and the ongoing labor crisis

December 6, 2022


We’re accustomed to reading about whatever industry millennials are currently ‘killing.’ But, as so-called baby boomers (generally considered to have been born between 1946 and 1964) retire en-masse, it may instead be up to millennials to save their industries. Employers in every sector are anxiously wringing their hands.

The boomers’ absence is being felt. In 2022, there were over 75 million boomers in the United States, which means that there’s a substantial number of new job vacancies. Managers and executives are scrambling to fill their positions. The largest working cohorts simply haven’t yet had the time, finances or opportunities to achieve all the career milestones employers are looking for, such as promotions at previous companies.

What impact will baby boomer retirement make on the economy and the working world? What potential strategies can employers utilize to mitigate the effects of baby boomer retirement and the devastating labor shortage at large?

What will the boomers leave behind?

Boomers have decades of industry-specific experience under their belts. They’re taking considerable amounts of valuable knowledge and insight with them, and this newborn skills gap will be difficult to navigate.

Gen X and millennial employees have been working for decades now, but many are still often deemed not to have the necessary work experience. Older members of these generations have children and aging parents, leading to an inability to work full-time.

While some members of Gen Z are already part of the workforce (the oldest ones are about 25), they certainly don’t have much of the mastery older employers want. This all begs the question: How are employers going to overcome these obstacles?

Ways to survive the crisis

There are many methods you can employ to keep afloat amid the staggering levels of job vacancy and talent shortages. Firstly, it would be prudent to offer more flexible hours, schedules and working options. Consider giving potential employees the choice to work part-time, choose their own hours and even work remotely. This will help attract Gen Xers and millennials who have familial commitments.

Secondly, focus intently on training. This will be particularly crucial for younger millennials as well as Gen Zs (the latter being new to the workforce and ‘green behind the ears’). By providing skills and professional development, you can create the skill sets you need rather than spend precious time hunting them down.

Thirdly, to appeal to these two generations, in particular, pay attention to your organization’s sustainability efforts; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies and company culture at large. There are many highly skilled millennials who have specific expectations from their workplace. It’s worth an employer’s while to commit themselves to these requirements.

Consider implementing mentorship programs before your older employees retire. As part of their roles and responsibilities, pair them with younger workers to facilitate the necessary transfer of valuable skills and knowledge.

Whatever route(s) you choose, rest assured that the boomers’ retirement doesn’t need to spell disaster for your organization!