In an economy struggling to maintain a reliable labor force, employers are overlooking a valuable, untapped human resource: baby boomers.
These Americans are beginning to reach retirement age, but they’re not all there yet. Some have chosen to retire early, but many desire to continue working.
Despite the years of experience and wisdom they bring, 80% of older workers have experienced age discrimination in the workplace.
So before you roll your eyes and say, “OK, boomer,” check out why hiring a baby boomer could be a great move for your organization.
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Some boomers don’t need the money — they’re working because they want to — though some may want to make extra money.
Hiring a baby boomer who loves the work and is passionate about making a mark in the industry may be better than selecting a younger candidate who's just showing up to get a paycheck and may job-hop frequently.
Boomers may bring a long-term perspective to work projects and often consider sustained growth rather than being the next big thing.
This alternative perspective can balance the view of some millennials and Gen Zers, who think viral internet trends and flashy new financial products like cryptocurrency will last forever.
Proven track record
A level of confidence and proficiency comes only by putting in the time. A baby boomer will have a longer resume than their Gen X or millennial counterparts and bring various skills and work experiences.
Boomers’ experience can help guide decision-making because they have seen success and failure.
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Research reveals that 90% of Gen Zers and 81% of millennials get anxious while talking on the phone. Most baby boomers don’t feel this way, as 77% feel no anxiety about smiling and dialing.
They don’t see chatting face-to-face or on a phone call as a skill because, until recently, these were their primary methods of communication. This penchant for “old-school” communication methods can be valuable in business relationships.
Boomers are more technically savvy than many other generations give them credit for. Despite not growing up in the digital age, 93% of boomers use email daily. Most of them are functionally literate in a variety of digital skills.
Like more recent generations, boomers rely on the internet for news, maps, weather, and research — even if they aren’t avid users of TikTok or Discord.
Which generation has had to adapt to the most changes in culture and technology? You guessed it — boomers.
The world looks very different now from when boomers were babies, and they’ve adapted along with innovations ranging from the internet and AI to Zoom meetings and telemedicine.
Boomers have been around longer, so they’ve acquired more friends, acquaintances, and professional connections.
A 59-year-old has been to more conferences, trade shows, and seminars than her 26-year-old counterpart, and that professional network is a valuable resource.
Many baby boomers now qualify for Medicare, and all will by 2030, so they may not need employer health insurance. Or their employer health insurance is their secondary insurance. This can save a company hundreds of dollars each month.
Some boomers are delaying full retirement, so their highly developed skills and experience are essentially a discount for employers. Some boomers want to work part-time, and even those who work full-time may need fewer benefits from a job.
Strong work ethic
This generation prizes hard work and dedication to one’s employer more than most. Boomers are used to putting in long hours to advance their careers and are proud of their accomplishments.
They tend to stay longer at their jobs — 40% of boomers have been at the same job for over 20 years — than Gen X or millennials.
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They tell it like it is
As they are in the waning years of their work life, boomers have fewer hesitations about giving candid feedback. Unlike their younger counterparts, they may have a low tolerance for nonsense.
The lack of sugarcoating stems from a unique mix of a culture of direct communication, authority, and confidence from years of experience.
Boomers grew up in a culture that was much more “keep your nose to the grindstone” than more recent generations did. Modern workplaces are built on collaboration, but boomers tend to work more independently.
This can be an advantage, as they’re unlikely to need validation or a sign-off from the boss; they just take care of business.
Who better to mentor and train your newbies than a boomer who has been around the block a few times? Capitalize on the wealth of experience and industry knowledge these older employees bring.
The rising generation of workers will benefit from boomers’ knowledge, and an employer will have reliable people to help them train new workers.
With decades of experience comes the assurance that you can get the job done and work through your mistakes. As the oldest working generation, boomers have this quality in spades.
They can navigate office politics and sticky client situations with ease and grace that many others cannot.
Boomers are more accustomed to an era distinguished by suits, ties, and heels rather than jeans and polos. As a result, they know how to behave and dress professionally to give a good impression of your organization.
Most baby boomers are well acquainted with a top-down, hierarchical leadership style in business, and they understand the merits of the sacrifices involved in climbing the ladder.
They value their seniority in leadership, as they’ve worked hard to achieve it. But they also highly value personal business relationships and mentoring junior employees.
In the twilight of their careers, boomers don’t feel the need to play political games at the office, nor are they as unsettled by perceived slights of coworkers. They’re secure in their identities and what they have to offer.
Baby boomers tend to strike the right balance between digital evolutions and stability. Wedged between the stoic Silent Generation and the cultural and technological shifts of Gen X, boomers offer a unique perspective.
Though they’re nearing traditional retirement age, don’t count them out just yet. Many are still creative, vibrant, and looking to make an impact on the world. And some are doing better financially than most of their counterparts but still want to work.
Giving them a chance to extend their legacy could allow your company to take advantage of decades of skills and knowledge of an underappreciated workforce sector.