"... Baby boomers includes people who are between 52 and 70 years old in 2016 …. It is projected that by 2020, the proportion of the U.S. labor force that is composed of older adults (55+) will be 25.2%. This continues a trend in increasing rates of older adults remaining in the workforce, as the rates were 13.1% in 2000 and 19.5% in 2010." [1]

This simple fact of workforce demographics can ruin a business in two ways:

#1 Boomers are still here.

In 2008, they lost 40% of their retirement savings and haven’t gotten a real raise since then. Short on cash and eager to stay active, they're blocking the career advancement ladder and hoarding good jobs. Seniority allows them to work from private offices and vacation homes, depriving the next generation of both opportunity and information.  [2]

#2 They’re going to retire eventually.

Even with delayed retirement, Boomers won’t be around forever. When they go they will be taking thousands of years of experience and knowledge that has not been transferred to the next generation.

What to do NOW

We need to encourage immediately more fluid transfer of knowledge – in both directions. Subject matter expertise flows from old to young; work process improvement flows from young to old.

Here are three ideas that can work for any company:
A. Design the workplace around face-to-face interaction – F2F is the main benefit (maybe the only) of coming into the office, considering that most people can “get work done” anywhere with wi-fi and a laptop. So we need to really push that work mode: face to face. Perhaps more even more importantly, looking someone in the eye builds trust, the core of positive workplace culture and essential foundation for innovation.

B. Recognize that 68 year olds might not thrive in an airline hangar with bean bag chairs. A demographically diverse workforce needs a variety of interactive workplace options. Let’s not design valuable older workers out of the picture prematurely.  

C. Incorporate virtual workplace improvements: network drive organization, file management protocols, chat and screenshare applications. Tools for online collaboration are exploding right now – they’re affordable and readily accessible.


Contact workplace1080.com to find out what a knowledge-transfer initiative could look like for your organization. Explore strategies for supporting a demographically diverse workforce.


subscribe to this occasional blog


AuthorMarcia Hart