The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Boomer Bubble?

Boomer Bubble?

Shoppers and Trends

June 28, 2009

With the economy still struggling to find its stride and retirement plans in ruins, the prospect of retirement deferral by baby boomers is looming. Not long ago we read headlines about the soon-to-come talent shortage. With unemployment numbers climbing to alarming rates and many baby boomers delaying retirement, we are now faced with a different challenge – what to do with those baby boomers that planned to retire, but don’t want to now.  

There are a number of polls on this issue and most seem to indicate the average retirement deferral is 7.5 years, with 25 percent of workers delaying retirement.  Not every company will address this issue in the same manner, but many see this as an opportunity to leverage off the institutional knowledge and leadership skills of boomers. Of course, the generation behind the baby boomers is anxious to get their turn to move up in the company and that is the conundrum. How to balance the short term “opportunity” with the long term needs of “the next generation” of leaders that have may also face a “promotion deferral”? 

We now have a Boomer Bubble. But with all bubbles…. they eventually pop! In the meantime this lack of “movement” could impede the flow of fresh new talent and discourage the next generation of leaders that are critical to the on-going and future success of your business.

Before the bubble pops what do we do? Unquestionably this will be a challenge for Human Resource Managers and CEO’s. It is critical to ensure that post boomer generations see opportunities for advancement. It is also equally important to identify the right fit for those that have delayed retirement – though it may not be for the same job or compensation level. An assessment of their needs is important in determining the right fit for your team. On the other hand, take a look at offering some of your post-boomer employees some meaningful developmental opportunities that provide them with the sense that they are on the right career track, even though it is not upward movement at this time. 

The key element to mange in this process is that of changed expectations.   Employee expectations need to be addressed and they need to be managed.  There is a great deal of upside potential given these new workforce dynamics, but if not managed properly it could negatively impact morale, turnover, customer service and eventually your bottom line.

In speaking with a number of N.G.A. members this workforce dynamic has now become a reality. Members are anxious to discuss with other members some of their programs for addressing this issue. Moreover, the N.G.A. Human Resource Executive Advisory Council has this issue targeted for review and action – with a very focused workshop developed for our annual convention in February. As SAADI, a Persian poet, once said, “Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.”


For more information about the National Grocers Association Annual Convention, and to register CLICK HERE.