Some businesses view the anticipated departure of Baby Boomers as an exodus, which is a fairly dramatic term. Is that what you see happening at your company? Even if you don´t know when your older employees plan to leave it still behooves you to have some idea. Clearly, you don´t want to be caught off guard, especially if your competition has been planning all along. Here are some points to consider:
"?¢ Recognize that you´re not necessarily going to (try to) hold on to everyone. It´s true that you don´t want to be caught without enough resources, but you also want to make sure that the help you have is the help you need.
"?¢ Understand that when older people do leave they take with them a bit of company history, the kind that needs to be passed down to younger employees. How will you handle that transition?
"?¢ And what about that history, that priceless brain trust? What´s it made of and have you ever considered documenting it so that you can find it?
"?¢ Should certain people be encouraged to stay while others are encouraged to leave? How can you accomplish that in a diplomatic (and legal) manner?
"?¢ Could the people who stay be put into mentoring positions so that you have a real strategy for passing down information?
"?¢ How do you prepare your younger employees to learn from the older generation? Is there specific training you can provide? Are you willing to make that kind of investment?
"?¢ What will you say to a valued employee who wants to take "early" retirement? Will you coach him or her to reconsider? Help this person make a well-thought out decision? Or will you simply say, "Okay, good luck"?
"?¢ If you would like an older employee to stay on, how long will you advise this person to keep his or her position?
"?¢ Will you continue to provide training for your Baby Boomer employees? If so, what kind of training will you provide? Will it be different from what you offer your younger employees?
The point of firing off all these questions isn´t to put you into a panic but rather to remind you that the future is here. Last fall, David Delong, author of the book, "Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce, and a management consultant and researcher at MIT´s AgeLab, stated on NPR that Leaving workforce with knowledge that didn´t exist 20 years ago. He also said that between 2003 and 2013 the age group of 50-64 will grow 40 percent while the age group 35-49 will shrink 10 percent. Those are numbers that no business can afford to ignore. What will you do?