Turning Boomers into Boomerangs

“Turning boomers into boomerangs” discusses the issue that might become burning in the years to come: the baby-boomers, people born between 1946 and 1964, have started facing retirement, which means population will soon lose a significant portion of its workforce. The author believes that companies should not neglect these specialists and rehire them, though, one must admit, there are several issues that need to be resolved in connection with this opportunity.

The problem most companies will face in the nearest couple of decades when the boomers retire is a loss of expertise and significant experience necessary for the high level of performance. Some companies seem to adapt the workplace for the older workers, especially in the fields where expertise and experience are keys to business success. The author emphasizes, however, that not all companies are filling the lack of resources from the source of the experienced old workers. One reason for that is that the supply of labor may be filled with specialists from the developing countries. Another is that older people may cost more in terms of insurance and health care, which many companies see as an additional burden. Yet another strong corporate belief is that older people are slower, less motivated and they also tend to be on the sick leave more often than their younger colleagues. The latter, the author claims, in definitely not true. Different forms and amounts of compensation is another tricky issue, as in some countries retired rehired specialists are earning both the pension and the salary, doubling the company’s expenses and many human resource managers admit it is quite challenging, embarrassing and thus quite rare to offer senior employees to take less money for less work. Despite all these obstacles, the author believes boomers may serve as a reliable workforce in the future, as “working in retirement” is no longer an oxymoron, it is “the new reality”. To support his idea, the author uses facts and citations from numerous reliable information sources, including the IBM’s human resource survey, the curious Los Angeles Times article, American Association for the over-50’s, the facts about prominent companies’ experiences (Deere, Toyota, BMW, etc.) and various statistical data on retirement ages, percentages and facts in different countries.

The author’s idea certainly does not offer any solution to the above-mentioned issues and challenges for the companies that might be tempted to rehire their retired employees. The only proper recommendation seems to be the possibility of a flexible work. However, the article seems to strongly support the idea of rehiring baby-boomers for the mutual benefits of the retired specialist and the company.

In my opinion, the author’s idea is a good solution to the existing crisis of expertise. Moreover, some companies have no other option that to keep the experiences older workers instead of a time, money and effort-consuming preparation of younger specialists. Moreover, I totally agree that the current generation “Y” has a lack of commitment to any company or business, while the previous generations are far more loyal to their employees. It is hard to disagree with the fact that the retired people actually become more interested in returning to work, as the pensions shrink. Work definitely brings additional benefits in terms of mental stimulation and challenges. There is really not much to disagree with, as the facts are pro rehiring the retired, although it certainly depends on numerous other conditions, including the company’s policy, specialization, expert-dependence, commercial possibilities etc.

This article does not seem to relate to my personal experience so far, however, it is possible that in the future my working challenges with be closely intertwined with those we now call the baby-boomers. According to the Texas tribune, the number of retirees returning to state jobs has grown by more than 1,300 percent (from 400 in 1999 to 6,200 in 2009).

Facing the issue of returning pensioners, the lawmakers try to handle it by putting some limitations and rules for both employers and employees. The comparatively recent National Defense Authorization Act of January 2010 limits the number of hours worked by any annuitant reemployed to “520 during the first 6 months of retirement, 1,040 during any 12-month period, and 3,120 for total hours worked during any period”. These and other limitations offer some additional challenges for the rehired retired workforce, but the most important thing is that these experienced experts are not deprived of their right to remain in their position as long as they chose. I believe any man should be granted an opportunity to do what he chooses as his professional life as long as he wants or is able to.

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