A boon to business still

Put away the balloons, delay the cake order, and stash the gold watches: Baby boomers, members of one of the largest and most influential demographic groups in United States history, aren’t riding into the sunset just yet, new Korn Ferry Hay Group research finds. Instead, they remain workplace power houses, deeply knowledgeable, engaged, and often leading organizations into a future they still want to determine.

“It’s clear that the baby boomer generation still forms an integral part of the backbone of businesses today,” Jeanne MacDonald, Futurestep President of Global Talent Acquisition Solutions, said of the firm’s generational research. “There has been so much talk about millennials in the workplace and their impact that many organizations forget that baby boomers are still a vital part of the workforce. They are dedicated, hardworking and reliable, while still having a desire to drive progress.”

Korn Ferry developed its insights about boomers through a recent online survey with more than 1,300 responses: 55% of the executives replied that boomers are willing to work longer hours than people of other generations. They were considered the second most productive generation after Gen X; 31% of respondents said the mature staffers needed less feedback than millennials or Gen X-ers.

Although they have worked longer than their younger colleagues and millennials now outnumber them in the US workforce, boomers are still fired up and ready to go, respondents said, with 54% noting that the best way to retain boomer talent was to offer them the “opportunity to make an impact on the business.”

This far outstrips other generations’ ambition, with 28% of surveyed executives saying that making an impact at work was the key motivator for millennials. The survey also showed that employers are eager to take advantage of boomers’ backgrounds and accomplishments, with 50% considering their “experience and expertise” as the main reason to bring them into a business.

“Our survey has shown that boomers are every bit as ambitious and passionate as other generations,” MacDonald said. “Couple this drive with extensive experience and you are presented with a force to be reckoned with in the workplace. With this in mind, employers need to ensure that they attract and retain the best talent across all generations to drive business success.”

Baby boomers also, of course, may have deep economic motivation to stay and excel in their jobs, Korn Ferry’s survey found. The 2008 recession took such a toll on the finances of many that they have put off retirement: 81% of executives surveyed said they believe boomers will retire at least five years later than they had planned before the recession; 31% estimate boomers will retire at least 10 years later. Among the responding executives, 43% forecast that boomers in their organizations would retire at 66 or older.

“While many in [this] generation are working longer to provide more financial security after seeing their retirement account balances tumble during the Great Recession, their desire to extend their careers is not entirely financially motivated,” McDonald said. “The majority of the people in this generation are highly motivated, enjoy what they do and … provide great experience and value within the global workforce.”