How Your Boomers Will Remain Relevant

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Very soon, a lot of people will be exiting the workforce.

Baby boomers, or people born between 1946 and 1964 are set to retire soon. A poll done by AARP showed that 48% of companies have no intention to do any strategic planning about how this huge amount of retirement will affect their business.

When I think about this, I see the potential to miss a huge opportunity. Imagine all of the knowledge, skills, and insight this generation has. As leaders, it would be a shame to let that go to waste and profoundly foolish not to tap into that.

I don’t want to come across as being negative, and looking at baby boomers as resources to try and suck every last drop out of, but I think there is a way to get that knowledge transfer to happen. Even something as simple as building an internal Q&A forum like Yahoo Answers, to let anyone ask questions and have the boomers answer. That way everything is stored and organized in one place, and it gets people communicating. There are a lot more ideas, I actually made that one up as I was typing, but I think it’s important to try and tap into that.

48% of companies have no intention to do any strategic planning about how this huge amount of retirement will affect their business.

Mentoring program

I really like the concept of implementing a mentorship program inside your company to have boomers really spend time with younger workers, and teach them different aspects of business, leadership, and life. One of the best examples that I can think of, is Germany’s education system.

In Germany, they have an apprenticeship program or dual system, which is a combination of apprenticeship, with part time school. The apprenticeship program in Germany is one of the main reasons they are able to stay so competitive as a country. A great book I would recommend reading is called Apprenticeship for AdulthoodList Price: $32.95Current Price: $54.81Buy NowPrices are accurate as of 07/15/2014 at 12:34 PM.’>Apprenticeship for Adulthood by Stephen Hamilton, where he really breaks down how we could easily modify the German system to work in North America.

I think it would be a really interesting idea to have companies set up something similar. A few days a week, set up some time for a type of apprenticeship program, where maybe you pair up a boomer with a younger worker, or turn it into a group type setting.

Reverse mentorship

While I’m mainly focusing on the baby boomers and the need to help guide the younger generations, there’s a ton of opportunity for the older workers to learn from the younger ones.

It’s fair to assume the younger generation is better with technology, and is much more open to things like collaboration and transparency. Understanding how to use technology, and knowing all of the different technologies available is more important than ever now because of the way the world of work is changing.

Implementing a mentorship program inside your company to have boomers really spend time with younger workers, and teach them different aspects of business, leadership, and life

One company I spoke to recently that’s doing this is Winter Wyman, a staffing agency. They do this as part of their onboarding process. As new employees join, they get paired up with older workers who can show them the ropes. This is a great way to increase employee engagement, because it gets people talking to each other and working together.

The importance of transparency

Throughout all of this, one of the most important things to remember is to try and record and store all of this information and knowledge. It’s one thing to pair people up and have them teach each other, but if none of this is being stored somehow then it’s essentially meaningless. The trick is to use technology, and other innovative tools to help.

For example, you could easily use Google Hangouts to have these mentoring sessions, and record the video right away for everyone else (even future generations) to see. You could use Google Docs to take notes during a mentoring session and then have other coworkers collaboratively edit them. There are other ways of doing it too, these are only a few examples, but the secret here is to think long term.

What do you think about a mentoring program for employees? Let me know in the comments!

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Copyright: jgroup / 123RF Stock Photo

Source: SAP Innovation

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