The Aging Workforce:  Preparing for the Void

The change in workforce demographics began in 2011 and will continue headed in the same direction until 2030.  According to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, more than ten thousand baby boomers are turning 65 every single day.  Let that sink in.  This astounding number is destined to impact the workforce and therefore employers like you.  Not all of these baby boomers are retiring, however.  Many are choosing to work part-time or pursue second careers, while nearly 25% of workers over the age of 65 are self-employed.  Either way, the outcome is the same for employers—a void in skills, talent, knowledge and leadership.  Although most organizations are aware of this trend, few are doing anything about it.  In this situation, ignorance is certainly not bliss.  Being unprepared for this trend, and its impact, will prove to be detrimental to your organization.   If you aren’t currently planning for the change in the workforce, here are some ways to get started.

Step 1 – Evaluate Your Current Workforce

The first step to being prepared is assessing your current situation.  Looking six to ten years out, use the following questions to guide you:

  • Who is nearing retirement age?
  • How will their exit affect the company?
  • What technical and emotional skills will be lost?
  • What gaps will this loss create?

After gathering this information, you will have a good understanding of the age profile of your team, the risk of turnover in the next ten years, as well as an inventory of the potential gaps that will materialize.

Step 2 – Create a Strategy for Mature Workers

Develop Tactics to Retain Employees

Older workers often want flexible schedules.  They may be looking for a part-time schedule with reduced hours and/or opportunity to work from home.  Determine what concessions you are willing to make to retain employees.  Look for ways to link individuals into the organization and community.  A continued commitment to employee development will also aid in the retention of top talent even as they approach retirement.   Finally, increase the sacrifice the employee must make to leave by offering attractive options for those approaching retirement.

Craft Succession Planning

Whether it comes at age 55 or age 70, retirement is inevitable which means you need a plan for succession.  Establishing a mentoring culture is one of the most effective ways to transfer knowledge to younger, less experienced employees.  Having the opportunity to work alongside senior team members gives employees on-the-job training that will prove invaluable in the future.  Even if that employee does not succeed the employee, the knowledge remains in the organization instead of exiting with the retiree.   

Step 3 – Promote Your Plan in Recruitment

The competitive talent market demands employers set themselves apart.  One way to gain a competitive advantage is through strong benefit packages.  Promoting your plan for mature workers better positions you to recruit and maximizes the potential of your preferred labor pool   Employers must address the reality of the aging workforce. Failure to have a plan in place and then promote it will result in an inability to attract and retain the top talent your organization needs (Aging Workforce Report, US Senate).

Step 4 – Invest in a Trusted Adviser

Many organizations are beginning to grasp the need for an external partner.  Multiple studies indicate that external business coaching is more effective than internal training in the development of leaders.

Additionally, despite your efforts to prepare and plan for your aging workforce, inevitably you will need to fill gaps with external recruitment.   When it comes to key leadership positions in your organization, you want to find the best talent.  The key to success in this area is to build a relationship with someone you can trust.  You need a partner who understands your needs, your industry and has deep connections with a community of leaders who are driven to excellence.   This final step of establishing a partnership with a trusted adviser is one that is often delayed until the need is imminent.  Get ahead of the game by starting a conversation today.

At Wyndham Mills International, we desire to walk alongside our clients in the recruitment process.  We choose to have real conversations with you, listen to your needs and find the candidate who is ready to propel your organization forward.  We would love the opportunity to get to know you and your needs.  We can talk about the aging workforce, leadership development, executive retention, succession planning or recruitment.  Let’s get to know each other now so we are prepared to take the necessary action when a need arises.


You may see recruiting and developing leaders as a problem. To us, it is an opportunity. We have assisted hundreds of satisfied clients. We look forward to assisting you as well.