We have good news, and we have bad news.
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The good news – for employers at least – is that baby boomers will probably hang on in the workplace longer than previous generations did, according to a survey from the Futurestep division of global advisory firm Korn Ferry.
The bad news is they are hanging around in the workforce because many of them can't afford to retire.
Thanks to the Great Recession, many baby boomers have had to adjust their retirement plans. The executives surveyed by Futurestep believe that boomers will retire at least five years later than previous generations did – and 31 percent expected it to actually be 10 years or more later.
That being said, the survey's results show that finances are not the only factor.
"While many in the baby boomer generation are working longer to provide more financial security after seeing their retirement account balances tumble during the Great Recession, their desire to extend their careers is not entirely financially motivated," says Jeanne McDonald, Futurestep's president of global talent acquisition solutions. "What is often overlooked is the fact the majority of the people in this generation are highly motivated, enjoy what they do, and provide great experience and value within the global workforce."
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Baby boomers are considered the second most productive generation, according to the survey. Fifty-five percent of respondents said that boomers are willing to work longer hours than other generations, and 31 percent felt that the generation needed less feedback than millennials or Generation X employees did, showing them to be more driven and dedicated than many of their younger counterparts.
"It's clear from the results that the baby boomer generation still forms an integral part of the backbone of businesses today," says MacDonald. "There has been so much talk about millennials in the workplace ... that many organizations forget that baby boomers are still a vital part of the workforce. Our survey has revealed that they are dedicated, hardworking, and reliable, while still having a desire to drive progress."
Baby boomers have long shown dedication to their employers in the form of work-life balances that lean heavily toward work. Companies looking to retain their boomer employees should focus on offering them the "opportunity to make an impact on the business," according to 54 percent of survey respondents. Additionally, 50 percent of surveyed executives say they would hire a baby boomer candidate to take advantage of their experience and expertise.
"Our survey has shown that Boomers are every bit as ambitious and passionate as other generations," MacDonald says. "Couple this drive with extensive experience and you are presented with a force to be reckoned with in the workplace. With this in mind, employers need to ensure that they attract and retain the best talent across all generations in order to drive business success and futureproof their organizations."
Baby boomers, many of whose parents lived through the Great Depression and who themselves just weathered the worst recession since, consider job stability to be the most important thing about their jobs, according to 41 percent of the executives surveyed. In addition, 29 percent of respondents said that staying near family is the most important factor to boomers when looking for employment.
Baby boomers and Generation X often paint Generation Z and the millennials as lazy or immature. Generation Z and the millennials often view their elders as out of touch or technologically deficient. The truth of the matter is that there is top talent in every age range, and companies that can harness that talent will find themselves with diverse and successful workforces.