Baby Boomers Retire to New Role In The Work Force
Employers Tap into Their Wealth of Knowledge and Experience
Philadelphia -- According to U.S. Census reports, 7,918 people turned 60 every day in 2006, which amounts to 330 every hour. Contrary to prevailing belief that retiring baby boomers will decimate the work force, however, MRINetwork™, one of the world's largest search and recruitment organizations, is observing a trend that may ease the pressure at least temporarily. It seems that many baby boomers are taking retirement only to return to work in the role of consultants, mentors and part-time employees. A recent survey by AARP found that 79 percent of boomers plan to work in some capacity during their retirement years, and many employers are ready to welcome them back.
"There's growing awareness that important institutional knowledge may be lost as large numbers of mid-to-upper-level managers retire," says Michael Jalbert, president of MRINetwork. "It's not just a matter of the job functions they perform, but rather the impact their loss can have on the foundation and culture of their companies."
For the baby boomers, conditions have to be right to induce them to continue working after they take retirement. "I retired early because I want the freedom to do some of the things I put off during my career," said Harry Huhndorff, a former design engineer with Eveready Battery in Cleveland. "No one was more surprised than I to discover I could actually earn serious money working as an independent design consultant for companies right in my area. I can take on as many projects as I like, turn down the ones that are not interesting or challenging, and work primarily from home – or wherever I happen to be."
Part of the demand for Huhndorff's services is due to his practical, hands-on experience. "I'm working with people much younger than I who can work magic with a computer, but they have a hard time with things like creating packaging or housing designs that are functional and can be manufactured cost-effectively. They've never worked in a shop with real materials."
Jalbert notes that an increasing number of the candidates his company places, particularly in contract situations, come from the ranks of retired baby boomers. "This is due not only to the crunch created by the growing gap between new job creation and new entrants into the work force, but also because companies are seeking people with the skills, experience and work ethic of the baby boomer generation."
Although workplace analysts and observers have been discussing the effect of large-scale baby boomer retirements for the past several years, Jalbert says many companies have not prepared for the reality. "It's vitally important that businesses develop bench strength. Forward-thinking senior management is focusing on hiring people, especially in their mid-to-upper level ranks, who are promotable to jobs two or three levels above their current positions."
For the time being, the job market has never been better for people like Huhndorff, who pilots his own plane, plays tennis three or four times a week, and spends a chunk of the Cleveland winter somewhere warm. "I feel more valued for my contributions now than I ever did during my 35-year career," he says. "I see myself doing this for a long time to come."
Management Recruiters International, Inc., branded as MRINetwork (www.mrinetwork.com), is a subsidiary of staffing and outsourcing leader CDI Corp. (NYSE:CDI), a global provider of engineering and information technology outsource solution and professional staffing (www.cdicorp.com). MRINetwork has nearly 1,100 offices in over 35 countries.