A most unique job market

Significant attention has been paid to one aspect of the post-pandemic job market: the overabundance of unfilled positions. But there are other unique trends occurring that threaten to disrupt workplace demographics and financial recovery. First off, people are quitting their jobs. In April 2021, quitters set a record at 4 million. One reason cited for this shift is a lack of desire to commute or return to the office. Another is the flight from restaurant and hotel work. Finally, some will cite a shift in priorities after spending time at home, or spending time away from loved ones. But another trend worth watching, and potentially more disruptive to the job market is what I’ll call the “Great Boomer Exodus.”

More Boomers (born 1946-1964) retired in 2020 than ever before. In Q3 2020, retirements were 3.2 million above Q3 2019. In Q1 2021, 30.3 million Boomers reported they were retired. At this point, 40% of all Boomers have left the workforce (Pew Research). While the pandemic was certainly a serious contributing factor, there has also been an ongoing trend in Corporate America to reduce middle management roles and push certain positions into lower levels of the organization. One more factor? Burnout. In some cases, being a successful corporate professional in 2020 required more effort. And after 30 years of climbing the proverbial ladder, Boomers are just tired, and they’re taking early-retirement packages or simply leaving on their own.

But are they done?

No matter how you look at it, this represents a huge loss of institutional knowledge and expertise. These are individuals with years of experience, and many of them are wanting to remain engaged. They may be done “corporately,” but they’re not done contributing. It is time for employers to take a second look at hiring practices, especially in the nonprofit and community service sectors – both of which can expect challenges as Millennials and GenZ workers capitalize on improved wage opportunities as their careers mature.

With so many variables, it is difficult to predict just how this recovering market will pan out. But we can be certain about this: a multi-generational workforce can be beneficial for everyone involved. Forward-thinking organizations think less about age and more about experience, mentoring potential and the increased creativity that comes with a generation-diverse workforce.

Coming Soon: Ageism from the Inside Out and the Outside In

LifeWork is proud to partner with Encore Network in the presentation of this live virtual event. Dr. Connie Zweig and Ashton Applewhite are considered leaders in the study of ageism. They’ll look at the issue from the outside (how others view us), and the inside (how we view ourselves).

Plan now to attend on September 21. Registration is free!