Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, have significantly impacted American society and the workplace. A generation known for hard work and professional loyalty, many were forced to retire early due to pandemic-related concerns. However, many are now re-entering the workforce.
Characteristics of the Baby Boomer Generation
Although 65 is the traditional retirement age, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the U.S. workforce next year will include 13 million people over 65. Many have resumed working (or never stopped) due to financial pressures, while others are simply in no rush to retire.
According to the online job placement service Indeed, members of the Baby Boomer generation typically get much of their self-worth from work. Further, they are effective decision-makers, self-sufficient, competitive, optimistic, and realistic.
Boomers have experienced some of modern society’s most life-changing technological advances during their lifetimes. Even the youngest members were well into their 20s, for example, by the time the internet became commonplace in American homes and workplaces. As a result, these employees may be more comfortable with face-to-face or phone conversations than they are with the texting and messaging preferred by younger peers.
What do they offer employers, and what are they seeking from employment?
Baby Boomers in the workforce (including those re-entering now) offer companies a valuable combination of experience, expertise, willingness to pitch in and cooperate, and social skills. Dave Walker, Chief People Officer at 1-800-Contacts, identifies that one of the best qualities his company has found in older workers.
“In the call center, someone could have a bad call or a bad interaction,” Walker explains, “and here’s a person who’s seen dozens of these and can say, ‘You’re going to be fine, just get a good night’s sleep.’ There’s just a perspective,” he says.
Flexible or Part-Time Work
Some older employees re-entering the workforce may need to care for elderly parents or young grandchildren or may prioritize hobbies more than they once did. Factors like these can drive them to pursue part-time or flexible work instead of regular full-time jobs.
AARP reported that the incidence of loneliness in older adults increased significantly during pandemic lockdowns. As a result, even those who can afford to stay out of the workforce may pursue employment to alleviate loneliness.
Healthcare and Financial Benefit Options
With the younger Baby Boomers not yet Medicare-eligible, healthcare is a priority for this generation. However, they are also concerned with finances as retirement nears. To address both needs, employers can offer tax-advantaged healthcare accounts, like Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). These help save on healthcare by reducing a person’s tax burden. HSAs also serve as an alternative retirement savings option. After the age of 65, HSA account owners can withdraw funds for any reason without penalty.
Surprisingly, this generation has the second highest average student loan debt, whether for their education or that of their dependents. Either way, this debt can hinder their retirement plans, and an employer-funded student loan assistance program could prove very beneficial.
Effective Benefits Education
With healthcare as a high priority, Baby Boomers in your workforce need a robust benefits package coupled with effective, engaging educational efforts. First, since many members of this generation prefer face-to-face interaction, like benefit fairs and in-person meetings, employers can pursue these traditional approaches to educating them about their benefits. Second, many appreciate print materials they can review and make notes on. And finally, Boomers may be less comfortable with technology than younger employees, leading to emails going unread or online enrollment hitting a snag.
Older workers are a valuable asset. To effectively tap into this segment of the workforce, make sure you have the benefit programs they are looking for. DataPath Administrative Services can help!