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Blog : Don’t throw the baby boomer out with the bath water…


Don’t throw the baby boomer out with the bath water…

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Sally Brand, Business Development Director for Purple Cubed, looks at the need for more organisations to tap into mature talent pools

Today’s workplace is more diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender and age than it has been for decades. And this evolution shows no signs of stopping; begging the question: “How will the workplace change over the next 20 years?”.

It is expected that by 2020 Generation Y will represent approximately 40% of the working population, and, as Peter Cappelli outlines, the number of individuals aged 65 or older will increase by about 66% between now and 2035.

To ensure both generations are engaged organisations will need to understand, and satisfy, their differing needs and perspectives, supporting collaborative ways of working, especially as we will increasingly see Gen Y managing Baby Boomers.

There has been a lot of focus on understanding and adapting to the needs of Gen Y, with Baby Boomers often being somewhat overlooked. However, mature workers offer a wealth of experience and knowledge and if this is channelled correctly, there are some great business opportunities. For example, mentoring and knowledge transfer, plus, having ‘been there and done it’ they can be valuable culture and values champions too.

A 2015 report by the SHRM highlighted:

  • For the next 15 to 25 years, at least, the demand for talent will outpace the supply of younger people who have the necessary education and skills.
  • Developing countries may contribute younger workers, but it will take time and resources to access these talent pools.
  • Older adults need and want to continue working, and they possess many valuable qualities. Organisations that effectively use this talent pool will gain a competitive advantage.

And some organisations are already ahead of the curve and are actively engaging older workers:

  • ASDA has a workforce of which 16% is aged 50+. It has seen a number of benefits including reduced absenteeism (to a third lower than its national average) and labour turnover as well as a more engaged workforce. 
  • White Stuff (one of ‘Best Places’ Top 100 Companies to Work for) has two seamstresses who celebrated their 85th and 90th birthdays in 2014 – they know the business inside/out, are respected and celebrated across the organisation and are still active fundraisers for White Stuff Foundation.

As we move towards 2020 will more businesses look for opportunities to tap into mature talent pools?

Given that Gen Y is characterised by its creative, open-minded, collaborative and ethical qualities hopefully they will look at new and interesting ways to engage and nurture the talents of mature workers to support success and business growth. Hopefully there will be some great Gen Y/Baby Boomer collaborations ahead!

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