Potential Loss of Baby Boomers Has Employers Scrambling

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The CIO-Millennial Divide: Struggling to Keep Up with Younger Workers' Tech Support Expectations

A poll of human resource professionals released on Monday found that more than 70 percent of the respondents see the loss of talented older workers as a problem or a potential problem in their organizations.


The results of the poll, conducted jointly by the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP, showed that U.S. employers are ramping up skills training and employee benefits as a means of closing skills gaps left when Baby Boomers retire, and of retaining and recruiting older workers (defined as workers 50 and older). Here are some of the key findings:


In which basic skills do older workers have an advantage over younger workers (defined as workers 31 and younger)?


  • Writing in English (grammar, spelling, etc.) (51 percent)
  • Technical (computer, engineering, mechanical, etc.) (33 percent)
  • Mathematics (computation) (16 percent)
  • Reading comprehension (in English) (13 percent)
  • English language (spoken) (12 percent)

In which applied skills do older workers have an advantage over younger workers?


  • Professionalism/work ethic (52 percent)
  • Critical thinking/problem solving (27 percent)
  • Written communications (16 percent)
  • Lifelong learning/self-direction (16 percent)
  • Leadership (15 percent)
  • Oral communications (12 percent)
  • Ethics/social responsibility (12 percent)
  • Information technology application (11 percent)
  • Teamwork/collaboration (10 percent)
  • Creativity/innovation (4 percent)

What steps have organizations taken to retain and recruit older workers?


  • Increased training and cross-training (45 percent)
  • Developed succession planning (38 percent)
  • Hired retired employees as consultants or temporary workers (30 percent)
  • Offered flexible work arrangements (27 percent)
  • Designed part-time positions to attract older workers (24 percent)

What actions have organizations taken to evaluate their current and future critical talent needs?


  • Conducted strategic workforce assessments to identify needs for the next five years (40 percent)
  • Identified potential skills gaps for the next five years (36 percent)
  • Analyzed the impact of workers age 50 and over leaving their organizations (29 percent)