A recent article in Business Weekly reported that the global population is aging and the majority of the population will be over 50 by the year 2050.
This could be perceived as a problem for many reasons such as increasing medical needs, reduced retirement income and a less agile workforce.
Although an incredible phenomena is taking place- Zoomers (boomers who refuse to age) are not retiring like their traditional parents- in fact they are taking cues from their Gen X and Gen Y to live well and exciting lives well into their later years.
Take Marian a civil employee of the federal government who at the age of 68 is retiring after over 30 years of service. But she is not going into the good quiet night- five years ago she went back to school to obtain her PhD. She could see her future and she could see that despite she would retire from her one long-term employer she wanted to continue to contribute and by getting her advanced education she could increase her options.
Many Gen X and Y are frustrated that many Zoomers are not retiring as planned. They see this as lack of upward promotion opportunities. Organizations are struggling to balance the long-term knowledge that the Zoomers contribute along with the new ideas and technical savvy of Gen X and Y.
If we look at the overall situation through the lens of a traditional workplace model we could perceive that Zoomers need to move on or we could create a new workplace model that will appeal to all of the generations.
Here are 3 ways that Zoomers are actually creating opportunities for their employers as well as their Gen X and Y co-workers.
1. Zoomers are forging a new creative work model- Many Zoomers who have worked for traditional organizations such as the government, finance or insurance are actually planning to retire because they have a good pension plan. The cool thing is that by leaving they do create openings for Gen X and Y but not in the form of full time positions. A Zoomer retiring creates opportunities for the organization to structure the position vacated and to even create part-time or contract positions both of which is highly appealing to Gen X and Y.
2. Zoomers are leading a trend towards 'project' work- Zoomers are recognizing that they are not 'finished' when they do retire and they are increasing numbers going back to school, starting a new business, taking a year off and then coming back on a contract basis. For employers this is a great opportunity to hire back on contract- no need for employee benefits, holidays or holiday or the need to do performance reviews. The appeal for organizations to 'hire for projects' is getting more and more traction. Gen X and Y like this because they work well with project type work and they love to lead projects.
3. Zoomers are fantastic training resources- Progressive companies are keeping their top performing Zoomers around longer than retirement and capitalizing on the 'hard drive' that the Zoomer holds about company history, practices and structures. Gen X and Y absolutely love to learn and want to soak up everything they can as quickly as they can so that they can speed up results. The benefit to the company is to hang on to proprietary knowledge and have the Zoomer create learning in the form of online forums, live training and peer to peer training.
Michael Adams the founder and president of the research firm Environics Group has the following to say about Zoomer women:
“They're the ones who have often put away their careers to the side while the guy did his thing. It's my turn. “The energy these women have in their 50's is astounding. They can go into retail, consulting, NGO's, they want to lead.
Marian from the federal government is a testament to the above quote. The exciting changes that are upon the workplace are happening based on a series of events but we can not ignore the positive impact that the Zoomers are having on organizations and with their Gen X and Y teams.