A new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlights how little most employers have prepared for the aging workforce. Ten thousand baby boomers reach retirement age every day, yet few employers have adapted to the realities of the new talent landscape. In the SHRM survey, one-third or less of respondents indicated that the increasing age of their organization's workforce had prompted changes in general management policy/practices (28%), retention practices (33%), and recruiting practices (35%) to "some" or "a great extent.
This gap offers a potential competitive advantage to organizations that take action. Here are three strategies that employers can use to beat the brain drain.
Increase Succession Planning. As boomers retire, competition will increase for an extremely limited pool of experienced talent. While new data from Pew Research puts the number of baby boomers and the much younger millennials at about 75 million each, the number of people in the crucial 35-50 age range is much smaller at 66 million. A 2014 report from the Institute of Executive Development and Stanford University found that companies do not know who is next in line to fill senior executive positions and that companies do not have an actionable process in place to select senior executives. Across sectors, senior business leaders need to work more closely with HR to develop succession plans and build the leadership pipeline.
Consider Nontraditional Candidates. In the old days, companies hired only "up-and-comers" and could always count on a pool of readily available experienced new talent. Today, the strongest employers hire more for potential than for experience and give serious consideration to candidates from different industries, candidates who may have a break in their work history, or candidates who may need significant training or flexible work arrangements. As Time magazine reports, some far-sighted companies also now manage their aging workforces by giving boomer employees the flexibility of phasing into retirement.
Improve Workplace Culture. Topc andidates ask JBK recruiters more questions about workplace culture than about any other topic. Companies with great workplace culture enjoy significantly lower turnover and better financial performance than industry peers, according to the Great Places to Work Institute. In addition, research shows that employees who feel welcome to express their authentic selves at work exhibit higher levels of individual performance. Companies that succeed in building a more humane, values-driven corporate culture will propel the elements of attraction so important to hiring and retaining top talent.
As baby boomers retire, the U.S. talent pool simply isn't growing fast enough to meet future demand. Employers that take action now will have the best chance of winning the next talent wars.