Offboarding Boomer Talent: A Golden Opportunity

Alexandra Levit, People Results
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Last winter, I observed an interesting phenomenon. Condo sales in the town where my in laws live, West Palm Beach, were picking up. As someone who studies workforce trends, this is the opposite of what I expected to happen. The baby boomer generation, I thought, does not want to retire to Florida and play golf and mahjong all day. They want to stick around and keep contributing.

It turns out I had only part of that right. Boomers want to keep contributing, but they are buying up the condos so they can do it from a pleasant and relaxing climate. And today, when I read Joe Scott’s BizJournals article on boomer offboarding, I thought that perhaps we are finally starting to get it.

Scott points out that the last employer in a boomer’s career invests significant dollars in training, salary, retirement savings matches, and in some cases, healthcare. Therefore, it really doesn’t make sense to hand them the gold watch and say goodbye. How about encouraging them to work “from the lake?”

Retirees Are Talent for the Taking

Most retiring boomers have every intention of starting encore careers from a diverse array of physical locations, so why not leverage our investment and their knowledge to prevent a skills gap and worker shortage in our organizations? Once they are respectfully offboarded from full-time employment, boomers can act as external contractors, using technology like videoconferencing and virtual reality to work on individual projects, mentor employees, and advise senior leaders. As trusted resources that often have long histories with organizations, retired boomers are far less risky than brand new hires.

This approach to boomer retirement sounds obvious, so it’s surprising how little it’s actually used. According to a 2013 Aberdeen report that was referenced in SilkRoad’s Rhyme and Reason for Offboarding paper, only 29 percent of organizations have an offboarding program in place, and only 10 percent of offboarding programs are focused on retirees.

However, maintaining strong ties with your boomer workforce means devoting the same efforts and resources to your offboarding process as your onboarding one. In SilkRoad’s Top Tips for Offboarding, for instance, we recommend that you create an alumni portal in which you offer current company information and job opportunities and encourage discussion will keep retirees interested and involved. The onus is on you as the employer to ensure that these properties are kept active and up-to-date. Also, consider getting retirees together for an in-person reunion every now and then. These events are good opportunities to re-build relationships with top talent and brainstorm new ways to work together. And finally, there’s no substitute for an exit interview that probes retiring boomers on their encore career plans. Why not find out right away how they can continue to serve your organization?

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