Think about this. By 2020, for the first time -- probably in all of history -- there will be five generations in the workforce. Here's the lineup:
Some of the Greatest Generation -- those born before 1946 -- will still be working. Behind them are the boomers, followed by Gen X, born between 1964 and 1980. Next comes Gen Y, who were born between 1980 and 2000. And finally, there is Gen Z. They're still in high school but will be graduating from college by 2020.
Managing that workforce is going to be a challenge, says Scott Smith, chief marketing officer for executive search firm Lucas Group. He predicts that this kind of age diversity will result in a tremendous need for experienced managers -- and who better to step up than baby boomers?
"Companies are going to need managers with communication, problem-solving, decision-making and relationship-building skills -- skills that are acquired and honed over time. The kinds of knowledge that baby boomers can best offer," says Smith.
As a result of this ongoing demand, he predicts that baby boomers will redefine R&R. Where it once stood for "rest and relaxation," it will soon stand for "retire and return."
According to a recent survey by Lucas Group of top executives for small- and medium-sized businesses, 60 percent expect the retirement of baby boomers to leave their employers short on knowledge and experience. To solve that problem, 27 percent say they plan to rehire boomers on a contract basis after their formal retirement.
Smith says that in last year's survey, only 17 percent anticipated rehiring boomers. "We’re still in the beginning of this. We're losing 10,000 boomers to retirement every day, and we're only in the second year of a 20-year phenomenon. The power of that number hasn't hit."
Smith thinks Gen X has been overshadowed by boomers for most of their lives and doesn't have enough size or experience to take over where the boomers are leaving off. He predicts Gen Y will assume most of the management duties, and that boomers will work well with this generational group because they raised them and they don't feel threatened by them. "Boomers will mentor Gen Y and share all their experience with them," Smith says.
What does this mean for us working boomers? Smith says he doesn't have data yet to prove it, but anecdotally, he's seeing more and more boomers "retire, collect their pensions and get called back by the company for a crazy consultant fee to do the same job that they had before, but working only 20 hours a week."
Sounds like great retirement planning to me. What about you? Are you ready to sign up?