- A recent study found that retired workers are re-entering the labor force.
- The reappearance of Boomers in a workplace with Millennials or Gen Zers can be challenging for leaders.
- In this Q&A, Dr. Carrie Root explains the implications of previously retired workers returning to the workforce.
A new study shows that previously retired workers are re-entering the labor force.
According to a Federal Reserve Board study, a full 1/3 of those who retire eventually reverse retirement and return to work on either a full or part-time basis.
It appears that many people who return to work after retirement just needed to get over some degree of burnout from the job. However, the Federal Reserve Board found that the motivation to work after retirement may depend on income levels:
- People in the lowest income percentile usually return to work because of their need for more income.
- People in the highest income percentile might not need the income, but it seems that they want to take advantage of their skills and the opportunity to make money.
The reappearance of Boomers in a workplace with Millennials or Gen Zers can be challenging for leaders. Author Dr. Carrie Root says it can be difficult to bridge generational divides and create cohesive teams that value each other’s skill sets and strong suits.
“Older generations need to be at-ease at the idea of reaching out for help from younger coworkers and younger generations must appreciate the experience, perspective, and patience that older colleagues bring to the table,” Dr Root said.
In a Q&A with Dr. Root, she explained the implications of previously retired workers returning to the workforce.
Allwork.Space: Why are Boomers going back to work?
Dr. Root: There are many reasons for Boomers to return. Probably as many as the reasons that they left. We are seeing inflation occur, and that will eat into retirement nest eggs. For many, retirement is also seen as an opportunity to try new things, to reinvent themselves, which a new job in a new situation would provide.
In a non-pandemic environment, many younger retirees would have turned to volunteer work to fill their time and their sense of accomplishment. But the pandemic has changed that landscape temporarily, and a return to work will provide that sense of self and fulfillment.
I’ve also heard from some women whose husbands have now retired that their quiet at home has changed significantly. “I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch!” one woman said about her now always present husband. So, a return to work may also be an opportunity for some apart time.
This provides a window of opportunity for skilled older workers that they may have not had in the past. In addition, vaccinations have taken much of the risk away from returning to the office environment.
Since we currently are in the “I Quit” phase of the pandemic, there are many companies looking to fill jobs. The younger generations are looking at the opportunities provided by gig work, especially if they are not buying into the concept of a full 8-hour day, 40-hour week.
Allwork.Space: How does this impact millennials and Gen Zers?
In the short term there may be less opportunity at the levels that the Boomers are hired into. However, that is not a long-term problem because over time, those Boomers that returned to work will go back to retirement.
For millennials who are new to management, they likely will find support in their new role from older individuals who work for them, particularly if they are ‘rebounders’ returning to the workplace after retirement. That’s especially true if these rebounders have had managerial experience in the past.
There will be many more mentorship opportunities available, should the Millennial and Gen Z choose to seek them out. And in addition to the traditional mentor-mentee role, the Millennial and the Gen-Zers may find themselves in a position to develop mentorship skills through reverse mentoring their older counterparts.
One thing is important to remember. Diversity, in age as well as many other aspects, adds strength to a team.
Allwork.Space: What are the implications for HR practices? Some people have said that they aren’t hired because they are too old or over qualified.
HR will need to ensure that fair hiring practices are in place. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median number of years an employee is at their current employer is 4.2 years, and that median increases with age. So, an older employee is more likely to stay in a job.
With the cost to train a new employee, this longevity should play in the hiring company’s favor. Many Boomers are working until 70 and beyond. This is something that the HR departments should share with the hiring managers—hiring a rebounder will likely be a sound investment due to the length of time that person will statistically be in their job.
Allwork.Space: How does the return of Boomers to the workplace affect workplace dynamics?
In my experience, there have been many Boomers who have had older workers who reported to them. I believe that competence, rather than age, will dictate the acceptance of the role of the manager. After being retired, the Boomer who was in leadership and is returning likely doesn’t expect to go into the same position at the same stress level. More likely they will be seeking advisory roles or supporting roles rather than supervisory roles and the stress that comes with managing.