Will Boomers Retire or Keep Working: Two Opposing Views.

John Paul Marosy is the president of Bringing Elder Care Home, LLC. The company consults with business and community organizations to create work places that allow employed caregivers to balance elder care and work.

John is a pioneer in the field of aging. His latest book, Elder Care: A Six Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family has won both a national Mature Media Award and a Caregiver Friendly Award from Today's Caregiver magazine. He is also the author of A Manager's Guide to Elder Care and Work, the standard reference text on this subject.

His monthly newsletter, Elder Care / Work Balance, is free and worth signing up for.

His latest issue discusses the impact that retiring Boomers will have on organizations. John writes:
"There won't be enough skilled labor to fill all the jobs as the economy begins to rebound in the years ahead. By 2012, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) estimates there will be 165 million jobs and only 162 million people available in the workforce. And 19 percent (30 million) of those available workers will be age 55 and older. Most employers aren't prepared to handle this impending labor shortage."
Mark Penn in his latest book microtrends disagrees. He predicts most aging workers will remain on the job and labels them the Working Retired. Mr. Penn writes:
"The Working Retired means huge things for America. As a purely numerical matter, they means much bigger workforce than anyone has projected. Every year, a little over 2 million American's turn 65. If just half of them decided to keep working, that would be more than 1 million unexpected participants in the workforce."
I tend to agree with Mark. I think this coming labor shortage is highly exaggerated. A 2005 Merrill Lynch survey showed more than 3 in 4 Boomers say they have no intention of seeking a traditional retirement. And many will have no choice considering their retirement savings were severely reduced this past year. Instead, what I believe companies will need to prepare for is aging workers staying on the job.

But whether you agree with John or Mark the fact is aging Boomers will without a doubt dramatically impact companies.

If Boomers stay on the job it will put the squeeze on younger workers, create challenging management structures and force companies to make changes to things like benefit mixes - instead of maternity leave we may see things like "winter off" leave.

If Boomers retire in droves, recruiting becomes top priority for many HR departments, especially in industries with a high percentage of older workers.

But nobody knows what will happen. We're all guessing.

One thing companies can do now is Strategic Workforce Planning to begin to get a better understanding of their workforce demographics, the likely hit they will take and start developing strategies for whatever may happen. Some companies that offer Strategic Workforce PLanning can be found in our HR Directory.

This will be a fascinating trend to watch.

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