IT Workforce: Is Your Company Ready for a Mass Exodus of Baby Boomers?

In 2011, the first of 76 million baby boomers left the workforce. The question is: how can your company prepare for the en masse boomer exit to come? Here are a few ideas to prepare your business for the day that many of your key players walk out the door to begin their fishing careers.

Understand the impact.

Find out from your HR department which employees will be eligible for retirement in the next three to five years. Not everyone of retirement age intends to stop working, but it’s important to determine which departments could be affected or what skill sets you may lose so that you can create hiring, contracting or retraining plans to offset the shortfall.

Plan for transition.

Create a transition plan that includes budget for new hires or training remaining workers. Will you need to replace the workers you lose? Do you require full-time employees or would contractors or consultants be more effective? Take time now to identify current employees who will be able to pick up the slack left by the retirees and create a training plan for them.

Mentor  young workers.

Pair each retiree with a younger worker and allow them to work in tandem for the last six months to a year of the older worker’s employment. If there is not yet a written knowledge bank, now is the time to create one. But in any job, there are intangibles that are difficult to put on paper. That’s why mentoring is the key minimizing business interruptions.

Retain older workers.

Don’t assume that everyone who reaches retirement age is ready to retire. Sixty-five is not as old as it used to be and many workers may intend to remain in the workforce. Offer flexibility to employees you hope to retain who may be on the fence about retiring. Part-time or consulting-based options may be perfect for an older worker who still has a lot to offer on the job, but also wants time to pursue other interests.

Backfill positions.
With declining graduation rates in key technical areas, the competition available is only going to become more fierce.  Coupled with a sharp learning curve in many of these positions, it makes sense in some cases to begin backfilling these positions well before there is an urgent hiring need.  By backfilling positions you still have the ability to take your time and hire for the right cultural fit, instead of rushing to fill an urgent opening.  This also provides you the chance to create a strategic succession plan to ensure a smooth transition from the baby boomers to the new wave of talent.

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