When someone says the “emerging generations” within the workforce, it is widely considered that those generations are millennials and Generation Z. Baby boomers were positioned to exit the workforce, so we thought, but they are now staying or re-emerging .
Employment dynamics have changed due to a global health pandemic, but in truth, dynamics were changing prior. Many baby boomers were not exiting the workforce when they turned 65. When the coronavirus hit the States and companies were forced to lay off or furlough employees as well as mandate remote working policies, the boomers were reluctant to “just retire” for a number of reasons. For some, they couldn’t afford to financially, and for others, they simply didn’t want to. If 30 is the new 20, and 50 is the new 40, then that makes 65 not that old.
Pushing out baby boomers means pushing out years of expertise and acquired knowledge. That’s a loss companies shouldn’t be taking but may consider due to the sudden economic recession. Younger workers are typically cheaper and less susceptible to illness, but they have underdeveloped skills. There’s a way to avoid this dilemma by also employing boomers as remote experts.
Pre-COVID-19, baby boomers began to extend retirement.
The aging population remains healthy, capable of work, and desires to continue working. There are three main reasons. 1. To find purpose or keep a routine in their days. 2. To share their knowledge and shape the younger generations. 3. To cover their cost of living. Whether it’s because they were never able to save for retirement in the first place, could never recover their savings from the stock market crash in 2008, or because they were bottomed-out during this current coronavirus recession, many boomers need to continue working.
In 2019, TransAmerica Center for Retirement Studies cited that boomers only saved an average of $152,000 for living expenses during retirement. That’s about three years’ coverage in the States. The Insured Retirement Institute (IRI) offers statistics even more bleak: 45% of boomers have zero in retirement savings. Zilch. Both of these surveys were conducted before the coronavirus recession, or as some are beginning to call it, the Great Lockdown or the Great Shutdown. (See Investopedia for more information.)
Before the current recession, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that “over the entire 2014–24 decade, the labor force growth rate of the 65- to 74-year-old age group is expected to be about 55%, and the labor force growth rate of the 75-and-older age group is expected to be about 86%, compared with a 5% increase for the labor force as a whole.”
Then the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe.
Mid-COVID-19, baby boomers are resetting expectations.
The economy shut down in March, and baby boomers countrywide are filing for unemployment. It’s too soon to tell which boomers will get their jobs back post-crisis. We can worry about the anecdotal evidence (like case studies or stories from friends), but we must realize it’s not a statistical prediction. The Washington Post interviewed six American baby boomers who were coping with the economic downturn and facing empty retirement accounts. Some were panicked, some were resigned.
How does one even continue to work when they are the target victims (over 65) in a virus outbreak? While several boomers have lost jobs, others are still working from home. Remote work doesn’t seem realistic in the long-term for workers like technicians, engineers, and specialized experts who are needed on the floor of facilities with heavy equipment and machinery. That said, there are ways to bring an individual into the facility without actually having them step foot inside through emerging technologies. We will discuss these innovations later on.
Companies must also adapt and reset expectations.
The transition to remote work as a status quo has proven one thing for numerous companies: work can continue, just not AT work. With the right technology, progress can continue. As companies consider what their workforce will look like over the next decade, finding ways to empower their employees, no matter their age, is critical. Transferring knowledge via technology from veteran workers to new hires will be a key initiative to not only streamlining processes and procedures but to providing information continuity across the organization. We’ve come up with suggestions based on our experiences working within the industrial workforce.
Boomers as mentors and experts.
Baby boomers are extending their retirement or returning to work with different expectations. Many want to leave their mark on the world. An analysis of 5,000 U.S. employees from Deloitte Insights found that 58% percent of men ages 55-64 and 56% of women ages 55-64 found that making an impact was their biggest job motivation. Baby boomers are often experts due to years of experience in their fields. Experts that can’t afford to be lost—whether that’s from layoffs, sick leave, or fear of returning to work during the pandemic. They are primed to be employed as mentors, guides, trainers and educators. That said, these experts can fill this role from the safety of their home with tech solutions.
Boomers as remote workers.
Remote experts are affordable. Companies don’t need to pay for their travel and expenses to visit facilities. Moreover, companies do not need to provide office space. Oftentimes, baby boomers want to work part-time, so they can enjoy more time off during typical retirement years, but still make some money or serve the community/industry they spent years a part of. Part-time is cost effective for an employer (no benefits, no salary, minimal time waste) which can help prevent employee layoffs.
Yes, baby boomers are looking for jobs that will allow them to shape millennials and Generation Z, but at companies that prevent age discrimination. Glassdoor claims that over two-thirds of participants in a study marked that they planned on working past the age of 66, but close to half had already left a job due to ageism in the workplace atmosphere. Ageism is your worst enemy; it’s absurd to discriminate against wisdom.
Introduction of emerging tech.
Baby boomers are open to training and using new technology they previously had no experience with: Cornerstone claims that 60% of this aging workforce considers skill diversification critical to enjoying their job. Preconceived notions about older workers are often misperceptions—companies shouldn’t these workers are anti-technology and anti-automating, particularly if it means they will remain employed.
By employing augmented reality during tasks, procedures, and video calling, people do not need to be physically present to share knowledge. For example: by using a video calling application with augmented reality (AR), experts can direct onsite employees to perform a certain task or fix a piece of equipment by replacing their real hands with an “augmented reality hand.” See our solution, Ario Connect.
Ario is offering Connect for a free 90-day period throughout Q2 to make remote work easier during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread. Team members can access a network of pre-designated, in-house experts they can call for questions or guidance during their workflow. Call recipients can add AR placed information points (Pips) from a library into the caller’s field of view to guide their work.
As the world and workforce evolve, companies need to catch up to stay relevant. Using all available resources, like emerging technologies and skilled veteran workers, accelerates production by retaining acquired knowledge and automating redundant or slow processes. Baby boomers want to work, they’re ready to tackle new tech, and it can be mutually beneficial for companies to keep boomers on their side.
Ario creates easy-to-use, knowledge-sharing products that use augmented reality to put information when and where it’s needed most. Our apps make it easy for teams to access, capture and share information in real time to help you build a smarter, more digitally connected workforce. We give teams confidence when they step into complicated work environments so they can complete tasks 35% faster.
Teams use Ario to stay ahead of the competition by increasing productivity and reducing human error. Get the job done in one run with our tools:
The Ario Platform puts important data and information in real-world environments with augmented reality, giving your team the knowledge and context they need to do their best work.
Ario Connect is a two-way video calling app enhanced with augmented reality that lets you share hands-on expertise remotely to guide teammates through complicated workflows or troubleshooting.