In this four-part series, we will cover how to recruit and retain employees from the four generations currently in the workplace: Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials and Gen-Z.  Let’s begin with the Boomers.

In case you don’t know (or forgot), Boomers is short for “Baby Boomers,” the demographic of our population born between 1946-1964. They tend to be characterized as having a strong work ethic, being heavily disciplined and focused, and like the security of a long-term job at a good company.  They are the employees that want that gold watch after 25 + years of service.

Boomers have been leaving the work force in droves over the past couple of years.  Forced to navigate a landscape of COVID, vaccine mandates, layoffs, and potential health risks, early retirement looked good to about 3 million workers in the United States. This departure has narrowed the available worker pool significantly in the 55 and older age group. Whether any of these retirees come back to work or not, remains to be seen.

That said, don’t count them out.  Older workers can bring a wealth of experience, wisdom, and mentorship to your organization. Many Boomers who were forced into early retirement may have restrictions on their income due to social security or retirement income limitations. This means you can hire them part time, which is a win for all concerned. They get out of the house, supplement their income, and engage with others. The company gets experienced workers for part time wages.

Once you have enticed them to return to work, treat them well.  Give them a position with a fair wage, consistent hours, clear instructions (with feedback), a boss they respect, and the sky is the limit. You may also consider a mentorship program — pairing an older, experienced worker with a younger person in need of assistance and training. Contrary to popular belief Millennials tend to have great respect for their Boomer counterparts, as does Gen Z.  Gen X doesn’t really care how old their coworkers are, as long as they get the work done.  

The biggest fear that both older and younger workers have, is that the other will cost them their job.  The older worker is afraid of being replaced by a younger worker.  The younger employee fears that the older worker is “better than them.”  These attitudes and fears can easily be put to rest with clear communication, expectations, and proper management.  One thing both Millennials and Boomers have in common is the need for feedback.  They want to know that they are doing a good job; they want help and training. 

So, where do you find these prospective Boomer employees?   Senior centers, “55 and up” housing communities, libraries.  And don’t be afraid to seek them out on social media.  The majority of Boomers have Facebook, and they love Google.  You can also appeal to their kids and grandchildren, who are on multiple other platforms, to help spread the word. A TikTok call to action might get you some fantastic results.

If you are looking to supplement your workforce, don’t discount the older crowd.  You just might find your best hire ever.