I overheard a conversation among three boomers at a restaurant recently. What they discussed might surprise you.
“Hi Kelly. So good to see you!” “Jim, I’ve been eager to chat and hear how your retirement is going.” “It’s been great. I’ve caught up on many projects and relaxed a bit. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not enough. I’m ready to get involved in something again.”
The conversation continued and, since my specialty is working with boomers in transition, I was eager to hear more.
Rather than a focus on leisure activities such as travel and recreation that most people associate with retirement, this conversation zeroed in on employment opportunities and ways to make a contribution that would add some structure to Jim’s life.
The “working retiree” phenomenon is real because of many factors: an increased life span of 30 years, boomers’ strong desire to have a purpose, and the loss of colleagues and daily structure that a career provided.
It is now estimated that 4 out of 5 retirees return to work of some kind within 18 months of retiring from a primary career. This is unprecedented and has the potential to positively impact the tight talent gap employers are increasingly experiencing in most states.
But, in order to tap this significant pool of talented, educated and committed boomers, employers will need to make a concerted effort to recruit, hire and retain them. This effort will also be unprecedented since most employers have been anticipating an exit of retirees with no thought of their return.
What is required is an attitude shift on the part of employers that will dispel their age bias and the myths about boomers that has prevented them from making an all out effort to bring them back in a way that creates a win/win for both parties.