Each day, another 10,000 Baby Boomers turn retirement age. Their eventual retirement will have an impact on the job market, candidate pool and economy. While past predictions had the mass exodus underway by now, that’s not happening. In fact, a significant percentage of Baby Boomers are not leaving the workforce just yet. According to a study conducted by the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI), a nonprofit trade group selling retirement-related investment products, Baby Boomers have other plans:
- 21% of working boomers have postponed their retirement.
- In 2013, 18% of boomers said they were planning to retire at age 70 or later, up from 11% in 2011.
- In 2013, 6% of boomers said they plan to retire in their 50s, down from 9% in 2011.
As a managing partner and material handling director for an executive search firm, I have the opportunity to speak with Baby Boomers quite often. They call me to seek counsel about their place in today’s material handling job market. What they’re hoping for is a position that would fit their years of experience but suit their new set of needs. From my conversations with them, they’re redefining retirement and want to continue working and contributing but on their own terms for the following reasons:
Money. Boomers can now expect to live 20 years longer than their predecessors. Therefore, many still need to work and earn a living if they expect to live well in those later years. In addition, thanks to the recent recession and getting caught in the housing bust and global economic crunch of 2008, Boomers nearing traditional retirement age, watched their investments plunge in value. Consequently, there’s a high percentage of Boomers who are not financially prepared to retire.
Social Connection. Many Boomers who are still fortunate enough to be financially fit will stay in the job market due to a sense of social connection. Retiring can be very isolating and the lack of human connection makes for loneliness. Upon retirement, Boomers often lose contact with those with whom they worked. Their desire to remain in the workforce is due to a strong sense of team work and comradery. They like the idea that by working together, they can reach a common goal.
Work/Life Balance. While many Boomers want to work through some of their retirement years, they aren’t looking to work at the pace they once did. No more 10 or 12 hour days. They want to use their experience and expertise for part-time work and/or flexible hours. In addition, they also want less stress and responsibilities. A work/life balance allows them to enjoy their family or recreation like never before.
Self-Worth. Many Boomers associate their self-worth with their job and after retiring they lose a sense of self-esteem. Although they may be free from the daily grind and waking up to an alarm clock, they feel unproductive. Continuing to work gives them a sense of well-being and purpose. Remember this generation holds the work ethic in the highest regard.
Passion. Boomers often return to the job market to pursue their passion. They’ve done the “get ahead” years and are through with that. Now they work to match their skills and strengths with their passions and what they feel strongly about. They want to find happiness in their work as well as a paycheck.
Smart companies will take advantage of the skilled pool of older workers who are willing and able to contribute. And that seems to be just fine with retirees, since so many expect to continue working in some capacity beyond retirement.
Dan Charney is managing partner with Direct Recruiters Inc. (www.directrecruiters.com), a Cleveland, Ohio-based search firm for companies in automated packaging and material handling systems. Connect with him on LinkedIn and follow on Twitter @Dan_DRI.