Retiring Boomer Talent Shortage Already Felt by Some Employers

June 11, 2007 ( - The talent shortage anticipated from the retirement of millions of baby boomers is already being felt in some industries, according to one survey.

According to a press release on the survey results, 42% of all respondents indicated the aging workforce issue is significant. Of that group, 50% have a majority of mature workers eligible to retire in five to ten years and one-half of those respondents also said they see a current shortage of skilled workers.

The effect of retiring baby boomers is most critical in the health care sector (66%) and oil and gas industry (65%), according to survey results. Meanwhile, industries such as manufacturing (34%) and technology (33%) are less likely to perceive this issue as a significant challenge, the release said.

James Sowers, Managing Director of Buck Consultants’ human resource management practice, noted in the press release the challenge is not so much replacing bodies, but replacing knowledge and skills.

Survey respondents said they are currently using or planning to institute formal mentoring programs (57%), knowledge gap analyses (69%), and intergenerational work teams (44%) as strategies to address this talent transfer challenge.

More than 80% of respondents, regardless of industry, have not surveyed their mature workers to determine future work preferences or intentions and 42% have not even identified who is responsible in their organization for knowledge transfer and knowledge management.

However, to address retention of retirement-eligible workers, 48% of respondents currently offer flexible work schedules and 23% plan to adopt them. Forty-two percent currently offer consulting assignments to older workers. Forty-seven percent of respondents offer or are considering phased retirement and 43% offer or are considering alternative job design.

Other key survey findings, according to the press release, include:

  • Cost increases associated with knowledge and skills transfer resulting from the loss of aging workers are perceived as being highly significant by 62% of respondents.
  • Aging workers want to remain in the workforce because of financial reasons (93%).
  • Benefits are reported to be the most impactful aspect of job quality (86%).
  • While mature workers are valued for their knowledge, reliability, and dedication (74%), more than 50% percent of respondents reported they do not proactively pursue mature workers in recruiting.

The survey, “The Real Talent Debate: Will Aging Boomers Deplete the Workforce?” was jointly conducted by Buck Consultants, an ACS company, WorldatWork, and Corporate Voices for Working Families, and assessed responses from more than 480 organizations in a broad cross-section of industries.