Boomers Postponing Retirement: What it Means for Your Business

When older workers put off retirement–either by choice or necessity–it can post challenges for your workplace.
December 14, 2012

Ever since the economic collapse of '08, the bliss of retirement is coming later and later for baby boomers. Financial uncertainty, poor saving practices and massive debt are just a few of the reasons the boomer generation is pushing back retirement into their 70s or even 80s. So how does this affect your workplace at large? 

As baby boomers in mid-level management positions push their retirement further down the road, millennials trying to climb the corporate ladder may see their opportunities blocked. This could cause a period of moving laterally on the corporate ladder, as opposed to ascending. Another complication: With the communication gap that exists between generations, the longer they coexist in the same work space, the more issues a company can face as it tries to grow.

Potential Upside?

Of course, a more positive outlook is that boomers delaying retirement can take the time to mentor upcoming millennials and guide them to be the future leaders of their company. But in order to reap those kinds of advantages, employers must be willing to invest time and money into older employees, and the average older employee must be capable of maintaining his or her current position.

And while it would be great to promise jobs and wages to all currently employed boomers looking to hold off on retiring, that’s simply not a reality. With 70 percent of respondents in a Wells Fargo survey saying they plan to work during retirement, because they worry or know they won't be able to afford to retire full time, you have to imagine that at least 10 to 15 percent won’t be able to keep their jobs. And having more unemployed people will just create more of a drag on the economy, which will in turn affect your business.

This is not just a domestic problem either. Recently it was reported that the average Londoner expects to work seven years after retirement.

To be fair, not all the reasons for delayed retirement are bad ones. As the average person lives longer, it’s better for mental and physical health to stay active. While the idea of not having to work for 20 to 30 years may sound great, it can become boring. And we could see a boom in boomer entrepreneurship, if retirees look at those years as a chance to segue into a new career. If they have an unexplored passion, they could see retirement as the perfect time to pursue it. 

Read more about posts about company culture.

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