Boom or Bust?
THE BABY BOOM GENERATION HAS DESIGNS ON STAYING IN THE WORKFORCE
CONSIDERABLY LONGER THAN ANY GENERATION BEFORE THEM. RECRUITING
AND RETAINING THEM COULD BE CRITICAL TO YOUR ORGANIZATION’S
There’s an opening for a senior manager within your organization
and six internal candidates have tossed their hats in
the ring. One applicant, Carol, is by far the most qualified.
She dazzles in the interview and draws on experience and
training to make a compelling case for herself. Carol happens to
Does this change anything? How your organization answers
that question may reveal how it will fare as Canada’s boomers
move into their silver years.
With mandatory retirement at age 65 removed from the Human
Rights Code in 2006, and the first wave of boomers just beginning
to hit this (formerly) landmark age, it’s conceivable and
even likely that many of your workers intend to keep their office
keys and parking spots for a good while longer.
“The whole idea of someone staying in the workplace into their
70s and 80s is going to be pretty commonplace in the near future,”
said Barbara Jaworski, CEO of The Workplace Institute.
It’s a shift that presents challenges most workplaces haven’t dealt
with before. But it’s also a change that presents some substantial
benefits for companies with the right approach.
DODGE THE SKILLS GAP
Boomers – those born during the post-WWII population boom
between 1946 and 1964 – make up as much as 46 per cent of
the Canadian workforce, by some estimates. The alarming notion
of that group retiring from their respective organizations
at even roughly the same time has caused understandable
and widespread panic in recent years, as people
fret over looming skills gaps and impending
But with no mandatory retirement
age, many boomers are
likely to continue contributing to organizations well past 65.
Some may want the camaraderie of coworkers, others may find
satisfaction in their work and some might simply need the regular
paycheque. Smart businesses that take steps to retain and engage
those boomers who want to stay in the workforce might prevent
– or at least lessen – gaping holes in their organizational charts
down the road.
There is no substitute for someone who understands their job and
their company inside-out.
“A lot of older workers know the history of the organization,”
said Eric Cousineau, managing director and founder of the OC
Group. “They know where all the skeletons are buried and they
know mistakes made in the past so you don’t need to repeat them.”
A fresh-from-university recruit may have the same qualifications
on paper, but an older worker brings something intangible
to the table.
“There are a lot of things that aren’t in job descriptions that we
learn by doing,” said Jaworski. “Seventy per cent of our learning is
done by doing.” Which can make someone with 30, 40 years or
more of experience an incredibly valuable asset.
Keeping boomers as an integral part of the workforce for longer
means there’s more opportunity to have them share their knowledge
with younger workers who one day hope to fill their shoes. In some
businesses, this might happen by way of informal conversations. In
others, it might take the form of a formal mentorship program.
“The ‘oldsters’ tend to like mentoring the youngsters,” said
Cousineau. “They have all this knowledge and appreciate having
someone to impart it to.”
By Melissa Campeau
HRPATODAY.CA ❚ FEBRUARY 2014 ❚ 29