Engaging Baby Boomer Employees to Address Your Coming Labor Shortage

boomersA Baby Boomer recently explained to me, “I would like to work on issues I truly care about but the golden handcuffs keep me from leaving my company.” Many professionals in that age group (i.e. “Baby Boomers” born between 1946 and 1964) whom I have talked to would like to follow their passion and purpose but hesitate to leave their companies so close to the goal line of retirement, because they fear the economic risk involved in a career change. According to a 2014 study by and Penn Schoen Berland, one third of the 75 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. want to work on important world needs, such as social and environmental issues.

At the same time it has been reported that the United States (along with other mature economies) is expected to experience a major labor shortage during the next 15 years as many employers will need to fill the gap caused by the Boomers who are approaching retirement age and will be leaving the labor force. This shortage cannot be completely filled by younger cohorts. For many of those who have suffered job loss as a result of the recent financial crisis and may still not have found adequate full time employment, this may sound too good to be true. Nevertheless, many companies that have not yet developed a strategy to address the pending labor crisis are likely to discover Baby Boomers as a solution and may, as a strategy, try to motivate Boomers to postpone their retirement with financial incentives. While external motivators such as financial incentives will be a reason for some people to postpone their retirement, such incentives are not likely to fully engage many of the large group of Boomers described in the study above.

However, full or better engagement could be achieved if organizations can find or create roles for their employees that allow them to work on important organizational needs that align with their True Vocations. These would be the types of roles that lie at the intersection between the employees’ passions, strengths and world needs that they deeply care about. This sweet spot for employee engagement is illustrated in the diagram below.

Finding a Role That Aligns True Vocation with Organizational Needs


If you want to engage the segment of Baby Boomers described above, you might ask the question: “What are your organizational needs that would align with the issues that your Baby Boomer employees truly care about?”

If you are interested in learning more about how to align your employees’ work with what they care about you might be interested in the following blog posts or in the book, The Boomerang Approach:

To see a free excerpt from the book click here:  


Previous Posts:

Does Your Work Meet the World Needs You Truly Care About?

How Do You Know Your True Vocation?

Misalignment between your actual work and the work you would love to do.