Retiring Baby Boomers Creating Talent Shortage

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<p><strong>New York &mdash; June 11</strong><br />Retiring baby boomers already are creating a significant challenge for U.S. employers in certain industries, according to a survey conducted by Buck Consultants, an ACS company, WorldatWork and Corporate Voices for Working Families.<br /><br />The survey, &ldquo;The Real Talent Debate: Will Aging Boomers Deplete the Workforce?,&rdquo; assessed responses from more than 480 organizations in a broad cross-section of industries.<br /><br />Forty-two percent of all respondents indicated the aging workforce issue is significant. Of this group, 50 percent have a majority of mature workers eligible to retire in five to 10 years. Half of respondents in this group also see a current shortage of skilled workers.<br /><br />The aging workforce is especially critical in the health care sector and oil and gas industry, with 66 percent and 65 percent, respectively, citing the issue as a significant challenge. </p><p>Industries such as manufacturing and technology are less likely (34 percent and 23 percent, respectively) to perceive this issue as a significant challenge. <br /><br />The departure of senior leadership was identified as the greatest potential risk associated with the exodus of mature workers (52 percent), followed by the departure of middle management (41 percent), and technical talent and knowledge workers (39 percent).<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s more than just a problem of not having enough bodies to replace retiring boomers,&rdquo; said James Sowers, managing director of Buck Consultants&rsquo; human resource management practice. &ldquo;The real challenge is transferring their knowledge and talents to succeeding generations of workers.&rdquo;<br /><br />Sowers said the survey respondents are using or planning to institute formal mentoring programs (57 percent), knowledge gap analyses (69 percent) and intergenerational work teams (44 percent) as strategies to address this talent-transfer challenge.<br /><br />More than 80 percent of respondents, however, regardless of industry, have not surveyed their mature workers to determine future work preferences or intentions. Forty-two percent have not even identified who is responsible in their organization for knowledge transfer and knowledge management.<br /><br />&quot;Solving the problems posed by the aging workforce is going to require out-of-the-box thinking,&rdquo; said Ryan Johnson, WorldatWork director of public affairs. &ldquo;We need to get rid of the idea that retirement is freedom from all work and change it to the notion of retirement as freedom to do different kinds of work.&quot;<br /><br />To address retention of retirement-eligible workers, 48 percent of respondents offer flexible work schedules, and 23 percent plan to adopt them. </p><p>Forty-two percent offer consulting assignments to older workers. Forty-seven percent offer or are considering phased retirement, and 43 percent offer or are considering alternative job design.<br /><br />Other key survey findings include:<br /></p><ul><li>Cost increases associated with knowledge and skills transfer resulting from the loss of aging workers are perceived as being highly significant by 62 percent of respondents.</li><li>Aging workers want to remain in the workforce because of financial reasons (93 percent). Correspondingly, benefits are reported to be the most impactful aspect of job quality (86 percent).</li><li>Although mature workers are valued for their knowledge, reliability and dedication (74 percent), more than 50 percent of respondents reported they do not proactively pursue mature workers in recruiting.</li></ul>

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