The 78 million-strong population of Baby Boomers currently represents as much as 40% of the American workforce. All, or most of these boomers are unlikely to look at complete retirement at the age of 65 and as many as seven in ten of the boomers who are eligible for retirement actually plan to work far past age of retirement or never retire at all. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says, that the total rate of growth of the workforce is on the decline. It will go from 12%, which is the current growth rate, to a mere 4% in the decade leading to 2020. In the very near future, employers will find that it has become crucial to hire, and keep mature workers happy within the organizations and the workforce.
However, it would astound the prospective employee to know that in spite of all this highly publicized research and the available statistics, 80% of companies have failed to make any changes in the organizational structure or work atmosphere to make special provisions available for older workers. This state of affairs needs to undergo a rapid sea change if these companies want to retain their competitive edge, minimize the impact of the declining workforce growth on their businesses, and if they wish to be seen as employers who are friendly to the increasing number of older workers.
By the same token, the over-50 candidate who is looking for a new job can improve his/her chances of landing the job they want by becoming more knowledgeable about the coming labor shortage, making sure they are the right choice, and demonstrating to prospective employers the fact that they can match and support the evolving needs of the company.
Now, the question is what the mature worker wants and how he/she can achieve these goals over the ten years or so. Some of the goals for a 50 plus worker may be:
1. Financial Stability: This is one of the main reasons that influence the decision of baby boomers to continue working after 60.
• The answer: Mature workers will have to look for jobs that will enable them to cover all their obligations. It is a good idea to speak to colleagues, various professional organizations, and recruiters, and research online about their current market value.
2. Different Employment Packages: Companies will find it necessary to recruit qualified candidates and create new strategies to retain baby boomers. Boomers want flexibility in their work arrangements, more meaningful and satisfying work, better and more comprehensive benefits, as well as opportunities for training and development.
• The answer: Boomers must find out about companies actively showing commitment to an older, more mature workforce through AARP surveys and magazines, newsletters, networking, especially in age-related discussion groups.
3. Age Bias: whether real or perceived, it is seen that hiring managers and even some decision makers have certain preconceptions about older workers.
• The answer: Older candidates ought to interact and work around changes, training, and relationships, and break the stereotypes.
4. Benefits and Pension Plans: Internal Revenue Code regulations prohibit any defined benefit pension plans from making payments or disbursements until employment ends
• The answer: If receiving a pension is important, working for an organization, including their old employer, as a consultant, may be a better idea so that the pension benefits are unaffected.
The labor situation is changing rapidly, and will continue to change in the near future. Keeping themselves informed about these changes and finding ways to better market their accomplishments will enable mature professionals to improve their future career paths.