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Business Journal
Part-Time Work Can Benefit Baby Boomers and Their Employers
Business Journal

Part-Time Work Can Benefit Baby Boomers and Their Employers

by Brandon Rigoni and Amy Adkins

Story Highlights

  • Part-time work is an increasingly viable option for boomers
  • Companies' missteps can fracture productive relationships with boomers

This article is part of an ongoing series analyzing how baby boomers -- those born from 1946-1964 in the U.S. -- behave differently from other generations as consumers and in the workplace. The series also explores how the aging of the baby-boom generation will affect politics and well-being.

Baby boomers are working longer, either by design or out of financial necessity. But not all of them want or need to stay in full-time roles.

In fact, part-time employment is an increasingly viable option for baby boomers who want to reduce their workload and still bring home a paycheck. Gallup finds that one in 10 baby boomers are employed part time -- a percentage that could increase if employers can find the right mix of incentives and responsibilities to keep these workers close.

With more baby boomers nearing retirement, companies are becoming increasingly concerned about losing these workers' talent, knowledge and skills. Offering part-time positions to high-performing baby boomers can help ease any rough transitions.

However, most companies' human capital strategies have traditionally been more focused on moving people into jobs than on easing workers out of them. Companies create entire departments to recruit, interview and woo candidates, but they tend to give less thought to what happens as employees near retirement. That misstep can fracture relationships, and it leaves the door wide open for talented baby boomers to walk right through and never look back.

Here are four strategies that smart companies can use to create part-time job opportunities for their top-performing baby boomers:

  • Redefine the exit interview. Typical exit interviews are designed to end a relationship, not sustain it. Most let unhappy employees air their grievances or simply serve as another box for human resources to check off during a separation. Companies that want to keep their baby boomers close should create a new kind of exit interview that lays the foundation for an ongoing relationship. As baby boomers prepare to leave, organizations should invest time in identifying high performers they may want to retain and having conversations with them to explore how they can make part-time employment work for both sides.
  • Be flexible. An increasing number of companies allow their employees to work from home and set their own schedules. This type of flexibility is ideal for baby boomers who want to work part time. In some cases, these workers may even be interested in a job-sharing scenario where two people split the responsibilities of one full-time role. Organizations have more options than ever before, and they should be accommodating and open to helping part-time baby boomers find new ways to continue working.
  • Value their expertise. Just as baby boomers want flexibility in structuring their role, they want flexibility in choosing their responsibilities. Organizations can take advantage of all these workers have to offer by bringing them on as consultants. This scenario allows baby boomers to focus on what they do best and enjoy most while allowing their employers to benefit from their valuable insights and guidance.
  • Focus on mentoring opportunities. Companies must prepare millennials and members of Generation X to assume responsibility in the workforce. Mentoring is one of the most effective ways to transfer knowledge and personal insights, but it can get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day responsibilities. Companies should consider creating part-time positions for baby boomers to focus strictly on mentoring, coaching or training other employees.

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