A growing number of Baby Boomers are re-entering the workforce while even more are staying in their current positions long into their golden years.
When the biggest generation in history behaves differently than its predecessors, there are bound to be tensions. Witness the Ok, Boomer meme trend, covered by New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz and myriad colleagues thereafter.
In addition to economic and environmental concerns being aired by Generation Z and others, there are workplace considerations as well. Have Baby Boomers taken all the "good jobs?" Will they ever "get out of the way" so others can advance?
Perceived or real, generational conflicts are beside the point. The world is changing and so is the workplace. Fewer people are fully retiring at 65. For many, increased longevity imposes amplified financial requirements. For others, the true value of the workplace is the opportunity for social engagement and the sense of purpose and value it provides.
Employers have learned to be more flexible in order to attract and retain the best talent. Companies also have to confront the threat of employee burnout by focusing on work-life balance. Not just for Boomers, but to bring out the best in all workers.
Mark Silverman, the CEO of Amava, has spent most of his 25-year career building and advising technology and life sciences companies. After witnessing the dramatic effect that disengagement had on his grandfather and father-in-law, Silverman devoted three years to researching the link between longevity and social engagement and co-founded Amava to help its members find a better path.
Silverman has heard the work-related concerns of thousands of Amava Members and shares seven workplace trends that he believes will continue to attract Boomers (and other generations) in 2020:
1. Flexible schedules.
As Silverman puts it, "the '8-hours, 5 days-a-week straight' notion of full-time work is morphing and Boomers are taking advantage of it. This might mean starting work at 7 a.m., taking a fitness break for a few hours at three and finishing up later in the day. Or it could be working a 3 or 4-day work week," says Silverman. He notes that flexible schedules have been shown to result in a healthier and more productive workforce. So, even if it takes more time for employers to manage, Silverman says the payoff can be significant.
2. Gig economy.
"Boomers are great gig economists," notes Silverman. "Whether they still work full-time and moonlight to help their kids (or parents) or they've moved on from careers but want to keep earning, Boomers are out there in the gig economy making money. This is great news for companies and organizations that need to scale up during peak times."
3. Remote work.
Remote work fits in with travel, caregiving and flexible 'work-on-the-go' lifestyles that many Boomers seek. Silverman adds that "all the cool new conferencing tools help a lot."
Silverman points to Boomers as eager upskillers, identifying many as "lifelong learners and self-starters, so it's no surprise that they are mastering new workplace tools and taking advantage of opportunities to keep their skills sharp."
5. Intergenerational opportunities.
Boomers have gotten the memo that diverse perspectives, styles, and skillsets make for interesting, healthy and productive workplaces. Despite the recent negative memes, Silverman reports that they actively swap knowledge and experiences with their colleagues, enhancing the overall work environment.
6. Mission-driven work.
"For many, the mission's become the thing. Boomers, like their counterparts from other generations, are increasingly seeking out mission-driven opportunities where they can do good while doing well," says Silverman, adding, "They want to do honorable work and with companies that solve important problems."
7. Working for benefits.
A growing number of Boomers are getting back into (or staying longer in) the workforce primarily for health benefits. As Silverman says, "With health care costs soaring, working for health insurance can be an effective strategy for extending retirement savings."
For employers, the rules and opportunities have evolved, but one thing remains the same: ultimate success is dependent on attracting and retaining the best people. That includes talented, focused workers of all ages and from all generations, including Boomers.