Baby Boomers in the Workplace

Charlotte Gerber
Image of a Baby Boomer supervising younger coworkers

The face of business is changing with Baby Boomers in the workplace. People who were born between 1946 and 1964 are staying in their jobs longer than their older counterparts did, and the status quo is changing in the workplace.

Changing Diversity at Work

One of the biggest challenges in the workplace today is accommodating the largest growing segment of the working population: Baby Boomers. Today's Baby Boomers are between 40 and 62 years of age. Businesses today not only need to entice and keep younger workers, but they also have to find ways to delay the retirement of the Baby Boom generation.

People in this generation represent the majority of managers in American businesses. This group's work ethic is different than the following Generation X group. Baby Boomers have a strong work ethic, work longer hours and weekends and like hierarchical businesses. Younger workers tend to want to work a set work week, enjoy change, hold jobs that are creative and like to be on equal footing with their peers.

Phased Retirement

According to a 2004 survey by Watson Wyatt, 63 percent of Baby Boomers in the workplace stated that they would like to work at least part time prior to taking full retirement. This group would also like to have more flexible hours so that they have time to enjoy life now instead of abruptly retiring and doing nothing at home.

Workers that maintain a minimum of 20 hours in their workweek can retain all of their current Social Security benefits. Most employers have an informal phased retirement plan, meaning it can be individualized on a case-by-case basis. This usually works within a typical flex program in most businesses.

The benefit for employers in using a phased retirement program is that they can retain older workers with more knowledge longer, allowing them time to train their younger counterparts. It benefits employees by allowing them to spend time at work and keep their benefits longer, while also enjoying their life outside of work more.

Age Discrimination

Despite how far businesses have come in creating a fair and diversified workplace, there is still age discrimination. This is especially true of individuals trying to start a second career or making a career change later in life. How you look can be a factor, though an unspoken one, in whether you are hired or not.

Since age discrimination seems to be increasing, so has the number of age discrimination lawsuits. With many companies downsizing or going bankrupt in today's economy, the number of older displaced workers has also increased. In 2004, the average payout on an age discrimination lawsuit that went to trial was $219,000.

Today's Baby Boomers in the Workplace

Baby Boomers in the workplace today may have more flexibility in their jobs than their parents did. Executive management wants to retain these employees as long as possible because of the knowledge they possess. It makes more sense to hire older employees with a wide knowledge base than to hire younger people with less experience.

This generation may be changing the status quo for their age group, as well as for future generations in the business world. Employers may have to face an evolving workplace environment for everyone, not just older employees, in order to retain skilled and valued employees. This appears to be a positive change for the future of businesses and for senior employees in the workplace.

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Baby Boomers in the Workplace