Advancing Baby Boomer careers

by 16 Sep 2008

BABY BOOMERS are leaving jobs because employers ignore their desire for career advancement and make assumptions about what older workers want, recent research has found.

A lack of opportunity for career advancement falls into the top two reasons baby boomers leave organisations, according to exit interview firm Exit Info.

“Employers are making assumptions about what their staff want based on generational stereotypes, such as older workers are slowing down on the way to retirement,” said Lenorë Lambert, director of Exit Info.

“The fact is baby boomers are still looking for a job which will develop their career.”

While baby boomers are more likely to understand what they want from an employer because they’ve had more experience in the workforce, Lambert said organisations must not assume older workers don’t need or want conversations about their career.

“Employers need to give the same attention to their baby boomers’ careers as they do to Gen X and Gen Y. Career development is important to all generations, especially boomers and Gen X, and a lack of focus on this will ultimately drive them out the door,” she said.

When employees resign, organisations are trying to convince only one in four baby boomers to stay, compared to around 40 per cent for Gen X and Gen Y, according to Exit Info research.

“When a baby boomer staff member resigns, employers may be assuming they ‘know their mind’ and can’t be swayed to change it, so they don’t even try,”Lambert said.

“When you consider that losing more experienced staff members is far more costly in terms of lost intellectual property, depth of expertise and replacement costs – employers should be doing everything they can to hold onto their baby boomers.”

In addition to a desire for career advancement opportunities, she said baby boomers are also less likely to tolerate organisations with poor leadership.

“Leadership is more important to baby boomers than any other generation. Exit Info recently conducted an interview with an outgoing employee who told his boss he was leaving due to his desire to retire. The exit interview revealed that in fact this only accounted for 35 per cent of his decision to leave, and his core reason for leaving was poor leadership,” Lambert said.


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