Back in 2007 I was tasked with researching and planning for the impending baby boomer retirement wave that everyone thought would be hitting right about now. The was a fear of a massive brain drain as the majority of our executive workforce is or will be eligible to retire within the next five years. The need was not only to find a way to staff the large number of people leaving but also to find a way to retain a lot of the historical knowledge that would be leaving with them. In 2007, this was priority number one. Then, the recession hit. Unemployment rose almost as quickly as people’s retirement stocks plummeted. All of a sudden, people were no longer contemplating retirement; they were calculating the number of years they would need to work beyond 65 to make up for what they’ve lost. As a recruiter, I witnessed the quality of applicants going up as more and more good workers are getting laid off for no other reason than their company can no longer afford their payroll. What scares me is how quickly these same managers, once tasking me to plan for a massive brain drain, are now claiming they can hire anyone at anytime because everyone “needs” a job. The reality is that these baby boomers are still eligible to retire and the recession will not last forever. Yes, it may be true that the massive waves of retirement will be delayed from the original prediction, but they are inevitable. In fact, my prediction is that once the market does rise again and the boomers see their retirement stocks go back up, they will retire as quickly as possible to lock in that amount before it disappears again. If my prediction is true, then the wave of retirements will be bigger and hit harder than our original thought. So, although it may seem premature to start planning for massive hires during a recession, it’s better than being blindsided in the future.
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