Just Keep Working

barista ladyWork, work, work – that’s how we will be remembered. The generation that never stopped working. Or couldn’t stop working.

I just read that starting around 2010 or 2011 there are going to be some serious job shortages as baby boomers start retiring in large numbers. Those that take early retirement or accept buy-out offers are just going to turn around and go back to work for some of the same companies, but as independent consultants or contractors. To give you some idea of the impact we boomers have on the labor force, consider that this country’s workforce grew at a rate of 30% in the 70s but is going drop to about 3% by 2010. And here’s a stat that blew my mind – in less than five years, dennis hopperhalf of the Federal civilian workforce will be eligible for retirement.

According to AARP, close to 80% of baby boomers plan to work beyond age 65, in what some call a “working retirement.” And why are we doing that? Because we don’t have enough moolah in the bank is the number one reason. If we don’t want to live in an Airstream trailer parked in the desert somewhere, we need to keep working to support our habits – such as food, shoes, and cholesterol drugs. Oh, and don’t forget the heavy metal mp3 downloads!

Beyond the financial need, a lot of boomers want to keep on working so they can stay energized and connected to the careers they have developed over a lifetime. The old boomer at worklinear model of school, to work, to pasture just isn’t working anymore. In its place we have college students taking off a few years to travel, then entering the workforce, then taking more time to travel, then returning to the workforce. Wish I could have done the same thing at age 21, but those options were just not there for us. The point is that the old school-work-retire-and-die plan is no longer viable. If employers are smart, they will find a way to tap the boomer talent and make the adjustments necessary to capitalize on what we can offer. It may be more than a matter of being smart, it just might be that best way for companies and employers to thrive in the next decade, by making the adjustments to offer opportunities customized to baby boomer needs.

Let’s face it – we’ve got gray matter, and I’m talking about more than the hair. We have wisdom acquired over many years, but those of us who have thrived in our work these past ten years have learned to do work with computers, Crackberrys, iPhones, and all the while relate to younger workers.

In other words, we still got game, so put me in coach, I’m ready to play.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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BoomSpeak - For babyboomers - by babyboomers.