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Corporations woo baby boomers

Article from CNN/Money magazine.

Corporations woo baby boomers
With more than 1 in 4 workers eyeing retirement, companies scramble to keep valued employees.
September 30, 2005: 7:46 AM EDT
By Shaheen Pasha, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Corporate America is finally waking up to the extensive experience mature employees bring to the table and placing value on the benefits of retaining older workers.

With more than one worker out of four reaching retirement age by the end of the next decade, corporations are now in a mad dash to create a work environment that will convince older employees to forgo the leisurely pleasures of the golf course for the frenetic pace of the office.

"We saw these demographic trends coming but business often has a short-term mentality," said Lorrie Foster, who directs research on work place trends at the Conference Board. "Not a lot of companies were prepared and now they are feeling a lot of pain."

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In a recent study, the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group, determined that the energy, health care and government sectors, in particular, are facing the biggest risk of a significant brain drain by end of the decade.

As a result, more companies are looking to keep older workers by investing in training programs and flexible work schedules, and offering to hire retiring employees on a consultant basis.

"While older employees do tend to be higher paid and can incur higher health care costs, employers are realizing that there is a trade-off in losing that knowledge from the organization," said Emmett Seaborn, a principle at Towers Perrin, an executive consulting firm.

He said some companies would be willing to give older workers more flexibility while also trying to control costs.

Wooing older workers
Butch Hawking, managing director at Kaye Bassman International, said the Dallas-based executive search firm is actively seeking to keep its baby boomer employees many of whom are considered to be among its top performers.

"It's on a case-by-case basis, but we have individuals working flex hours, part-time, telecommuting and we've exhausted every known resource to accommodate our employees," he said. "It's a balance of love and profits because we know the cost of losing a bona fide superstar can be troubling."

Employers are also paying attention to the issue as they try to fill in gaps in the work force as older, more experienced workers leave.

AARP recently released its 2005 list of the 50 best employers for those over 50. (For the full list, click here.)

Among the factors evaluated: opportunities for employee development, the average age of the work force and whether the company provides flexible work arrangements for older employees.

Deere & Co (Research)., Whirlpool (Research) and Hartford Financial Services Group (Research) were among the publicly traded companies to make the list.

Jennifer Schramm, manager of work place trends and forecasting at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), said employers are finding it easier to score points with employees by allowing them to fix a schedule that's accommodating for their changing lifestyles.

That can include so-called telecommuting, or working form home, as well as part-time work at the office, or a combination of both.

From a corporate standpoint, there are financial perks in allowing an older worker to come in on a part-time basis. As part-timers, generally, don't receive the same health benefits as a full-time staff worker, companies can save a few dollars and still retain the expertise of a seasoned employee, experts said.

A recent survey by SHRM indicated that one in 10 companies reported offering a reduced schedule prior to full retirement to allow older workers a way to ease into retirement while passing along institutional knowledge to others.

"Keeping a retired employee on a consultant basis is also becomingly increasingly popular," Schramm said. "Forty-one percent of our members report that they are either doing it or are thinking of doing it."

The Conference Board's Foster added that corporations are looking to bring back retirees to train younger employees and other corporations, such as drug retailer CVS (Research), are actively recruiting older workers to appeal to older customers.

Increased on-the-job training
Corporations are also offering older workers new opportunities.

Gerry Lupacchino, vice president of client services at Novations/J. Howard, a consulting firm, said workers are often marginalized as they approached retirement age, given the perception among some that mature workers are a diminished resource.

But now more corporations are choosing to "rehire" older employees by involving them in mentoring programs, giving them access to coaching, strategy development and research programs.

It's a win-win for employers and employees, he said.

"Why employees stay with a company has less to do with compensation and more to do with the importance, influence and recognition a company bestows," Lupacchino said.

"If employees are engaged and allowed to work with others and share knowledge, its less likely that companies will lose their brain trust to retirement."


Find out how to negotiate flex-time, here.



The estimated number of baby boomers, in millions, in the U.S.

The percentage of the nation's population made up of baby boomers

The percentage of boomers who are women

The percentage of boomers who are minorities

The number of boomers, in millions, who already are age 50 or older

The percentage of the population that boomers will make up in 25
years, when they will be ages 66 to 84

Average annual spending, in dollars, by boomer households

The poverty rate, in percent, for boomers in 2000, lower than for
any other segment of the population

Number of states (California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New
Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas) where more than half
of all boomers live

The divorce rate, in percent, for boomers

The divorce rate, in percent, for the pre-boomer generation, those
65 and older

The percentage of boomers who have never married

The percentage of those 65 and over who have never married

Percentage of boomers who voted in the 2000 presidential election

Percentage of boomers who completed high school

Percentage of boomers who have a bachelor's degree or higher

Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute

When We're All 64

In about 100 days, the first of the baby boomers will turn 60.
Already, this generation has given rise to minivans, Botox and two-
income families. Here's a look at what might come.


Cellphones that monitor your body temperature and sleep patterns.
Cruise ships that take the place of retirement communities. "Brain
gyms" where you sharpen your wits with computer games. Video
autobiographies and interactive cemeteries.

The baby boom is about to enter its golden years -- and getting
older will never be the same.

On Jan. 1, the first of an estimated 77 million baby boomers, those
Americans born from 1946 to 1964, will celebrate their 60th
birthday. Through its sheer size -- and, some would say, self-
indulgence -- the generation has given rise, or given teeth, to a
host of fashions and institutions that are now central to popular
culture: rock 'n' roll, working moms, Earth Day, sport-utility
vehicles, Botox, shacking up, Viagra and Starbucks.

All of which prompts the question: What comes next?

We asked dozens of professionals across the country who track baby
boomers as part of their job, from gerontologists and academics to
marketers and venture capitalists. Their answers -- or educated
guesses -- cover a range of products, services and lifestyles that
could make aging in America more comfortable, convenient and
rewarding -- not to mention entertaining.

Clearly, puzzling out boomers' wants and whims as they move into
their 60s and beyond could prove a lucrative exercise. Baby boomers
account for 42% of all U.S. households and control 50% of all
consumer spending, or more than $2 trillion a year, according to a
2002 study by American Demographics magazine.

Here's a look at how the boomers' movement into later life might
change the economy and society.


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