Uncharted Waters = Unprecedented Opportunity

The numbers are astounding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 3% of the US workforce quit their jobs in August. That’s 4.3 million employees walking out the door in one month. Or, in this WFH era, logging off. Then there is this: Boomers are calling it a career at a record pace: 6 million more from Q3 2020 to Q1 2021 than during the same period a year earlier.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to decipher everything that is happening in the current job market; it has evolved into something like a pot-luck dinner with no categories assigned. Inevitably, there’s too many casseroles, and the ingredients are difficult to identify. There are plenty of anecdotes, but hard data is lacking. What do we know?

  • The departing Boomers represent a serious loss of experienced talent ahead of schedule
  • Up-next generations don’t have the numbers or the experience to immediately fill the gap
  • Not everyone left voluntarily
  • The pandemic caused many to reevaluate their life – and retirement plans
  • Like many pandemic-related issues, this could take months (or years) to sort out
  • As many as half the Boomers exiting the workforce right now still expect to work in some form

While there are some behaviors in this market that we have seen previously during periods of financial upheaval, much of the current state represents new ground that will continue evolving. In conversations I’ve had with recruiters, senior HR executives, new retirees and employees considering retirement, you hear a good number of theories but very few certainties and a wide range in confidence.

My evaluation, based on the few facts we have? There are a few million potential hires out there in the 55+ demographic with a huge amount of experience, good technical skills, and a well-proven work ethic. It’s time to end the pre-pandemic (or pre-Great Resignation) practice of ageism that pushed their resumes aside, and take a look at what they can bring to your workplace. This is especially true in the nonprofit and community sectors. These are individuals who can identify with a passion for service as they transition to a second-act career – many are no longer driven by earnings; they are driven by purpose and desire to be engaged.

Current events have produced a bumper-crop of exceptional talent that’s waiting in the field. Smart organizations will recognize this unique opportunity to harvest.