Developing a “Baby Boomer” Transition Strategy
There is a demographic tsunami that is about to hit many industries throughout North America including the transportation and logistics industries. For those who were born immediately after World War 2, age 65 is just a few months or years away. There were 76 million Americans (and probably about 7 to 8 million Canadians) born between 1946 and 1964.
Much has been said and written about the high percentage of truck drivers who are 55 years of age and over. That is just one segment of the industry. There are many managers, executives and CEO/owners of trucking companies who are approaching baby boomer status.
Here are a few observations I would like to make on this subject. The economic challenges of the past few years have eroded the nest eggs and value of baby boomers’ properties. While unemployment is very high and possibly going higher in the United States and Canada, many baby boomers need and want to keep working. This generation of seniors is probably healthier than any previous generation. The thought that many baby boomers are ready to step aside and make room for the next generation of workers is not realistic. For those folks thinking that the retirement of baby boomers will solve the unemployment problem, this is not a realistic scenario.
For those baby boomers who will want to keep working past age 65, forward thinking companies should be planning on how to best use these resources. For many companies, this pool of employees represents its most knowledgeable and experienced workforce. The departure of these employees without a sound succession plan could be a ticket to disaster.
Many “boomers” will be looking to remain in their current capacity well into their late 60’s. Some baby boomers will be happy with part time employment or interim assignments (e.g. 3 days a week). Under this scenario, the next level of talent can be mentored, trained and coached so it can take on more senior responsibilities. A good succession plan should include these components:
1. Make sure that junior managers or the so-called “junior seniors” get the breadth of experience they will need when they get to the top.
2. Rotate these folks through multiple assignments in various disciplines.
3. Provide these managers with overseas experience.
4. Establish phased retirement plans that give the company time find replacements and train them properly.
5. Provide “high achievers” with attractive compensation programs so they remain with the company.
Other “boomers” may contemplate re-careering, either in the non-profit or for profit sectors. In order to rebuild their wealth, many seniors will be looking for positions in the corporate world, possibly in start-ups or new business ventures. Some “boomers” may provide their skills as educators or consultants. In the latter capacity, they can be re-hired to provide the coaching needed to elevate the capabilities of their replacements.
For the lucky ones who have the resources to retire without remaining in the workforce in any capacity, they will be a healthy, large and active generation. This segment of baby boomers will create marketing opportunities (e.g. travel, lifestyle, home downsizing, and education) for proactive companies. They will be active in volunteer work and can provide valuable coaching and mentoring skills.
This is the time for companies to review their manpower planning for the next five years. It is time to assess the needs and requirements of your “boomer” workforce and of their eventual replacements to make sure there is a well thought out transition, educational transfer and replacement strategy.