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How not to lose the baby boomers from workforce?
Old 06-20-2010, 06:57 AM   #1
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How not to lose the baby boomers from workforce?

I attended a company organised talk on Ageing Population and its impact on companies. There was no surprise on the findings - the usual suspects of skills disappearing with baby boomers who are retiring. However, I was disappointed that the talk did not touch on what my company would do to encourage people to work longer. It wasn't that they did not care, they seemed to realise that this is a big problem and wanted the experienced staff to work longer. I guess if firms have a set of benefits or priorities for the "older" staff, it could be deemed discrimination. I don't think I would have resigned yet, if there were some arrangements of entitlement of taking 6 to 12 months sabbatical for employees who reach 50 and have been with the firm for a specified number of years. That would have worked for me. Is there anything your firm could have done to encourage you to work a few more years?
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:13 AM   #2
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Nope. Once I determined I could, my decision to gain my freedom was made.

What I think was stupid was that not long after I joined my group, they deleted programs to hire out of college & the career paths. Instead of growing talent like they used to for us, they ruined every incentive to make a career there. We looked behind us to not only see there was no one who could fill our shoes, but no one at all. So they reaped what they sowed. Self made short sighted disaster and happily no longer my problem.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:06 AM   #3
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Unless there are very high skills involved that are very difficult and/or expensive to train and recruit, why would any employers go out of their way to encourage retention in a job market with double-digit real employment? And speaking from the bigger economic picture, if these boomers can afford to retire, why do we want to encourage them to stay when there are a lot of unemployed people out there who *need* those jobs much more?
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Moscyn View Post
I attended a company organised talk on Ageing Population and its impact on companies. There was no surprise on the findings - the usual suspects of skills disappearing with baby boomers who are retiring. However, I was disappointed that the talk did not touch on what my company would do to encourage people to work longer. It wasn't that they did not care, they seemed to realise that this is a big problem and wanted the experienced staff to work longer. I guess if firms have a set of benefits or priorities for the "older" staff, it could be deemed discrimination. I don't think I would have resigned yet, if there were some arrangements of entitlement of taking 6 to 12 months sabbatical for employees who reach 50 and have been with the firm for a specified number of years. That would have worked for me. Is there anything your firm could have done to encourage you to work a few more years?
It seems to me companies usually try to get rid of their over 50 workers as they are usually considered "too expensive" for their contribution. I guess we'll see how it really works out. As ziggy29 says - with the current persistent high unemployment it's hard to see this changing any time soon.

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Old 06-20-2010, 10:34 AM   #5
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It seems to me companies usually try to get rid of their over 50 workers as they are usually considered "too expensive" for their contribution. I guess we'll see how it really works out. As ziggy29 says - with the current persistent high unemployment it's hard to see this changing any time soon.

Audrey
I would be interested to know from the docs on the forum, whether this applies to physicians in the US at the present time. It certainly doesn't apply in Canada.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:59 AM   #6
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At my current job, I would like to work only 4 days a week instead of 5, and would happily take the corresponding pay cut, if I could keep my health benefits. That would make me less eager to quit / retire.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:08 AM   #7
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At my current job, I would like to work only 4 days a week instead of 5, and would happily take the corresponding pay cut, if I could keep my health benefits. That would make me less eager to quit / retire.
Ah, the great US dilemna! I am so glad to live in a country where this is not an issue.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:16 AM   #8
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At my current job, I would like to work only 4 days a week instead of 5, and would happily take the corresponding pay cut, if I could keep my health benefits. That would make me less eager to quit / retire.
The trick here is that your workload would actually *drop* 20% corresponding to a 20% reduction in pay. (And in reality, you'd probably have to pay an increased portion of your health insurance premium; maybe with 20% less responsibility and 20% less pay you might lose 20% of your employer health insurance subsidy.)

Being a salaried employee, I have doubts that if my employer somehow made a "deal" like this with me, my workload would actually drop by 20%.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 06-20-2010, 11:53 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Moscyn View Post
I attended a company organised talk on Ageing Population and its impact on companies. There was no surprise on the findings - the usual suspects of skills disappearing with baby boomers who are retiring. However, I was disappointed that the talk did not touch on what my company would do to encourage people to work longer. It wasn't that they did not care, they seemed to realise that this is a big problem and wanted the experienced staff to work longer. I guess if firms have a set of benefits or priorities for the "older" staff, it could be deemed discrimination. I don't think I would have resigned yet, if there were some arrangements of entitlement of taking 6 to 12 months sabbatical for employees who reach 50 and have been with the firm for a specified number of years. That would have worked for me. Is there anything your firm could have done to encourage you to work a few more years?
I worked most of my professional life in aerospace, which is [was?] characterized by a "bimodal" distribution of employee ages. To put it in plain English, almost all employees were either young with limited experience or older with lots of experience but approaching the retirement age. There was almost nobody in the middle. This age distribution was due to the boom/bust characteristics of aerospace.

This has been recognized as a problem for years and years, but absolutely nothing has been done to address it. I suspect that the lack of action largely stems from the fact that the problem is long term, not short term. The stock market is focused on the short term. Thus, the stock market punishes companies that attempt to do something about the potential loss of talent.

I suspect that the loss of baby-boomer talent will happen for exactly the same reason. The "system" simply will not allow solutions to the problem to be implemented.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Moscyn
Is there anything your firm could have done to encourage you to work a few more years?
(1) Part time work. Actually, I am very glad that my agency never permitted scientists to work part time (barring medical issues requiring it). Had I been able to work 20 hours a week with the same health insurance and other benefits, I might have delayed ER for years. Although my workload might not have dropped, I think I could have accomplished more, perhaps all of it in 20 hours, due to feeling fresh, rested, energetic, and encouraged. I would have taken work home more often if necessary. And then there's the extra coffee i would be drinking with all that extra time....

(2) Telecommuting. Had telecommuting been implemented in a reasonable way (such as any rational, yet fair and concientious management team might devise), I might have delayed ER to telecommute. As it was, it was career suicide and made to be such a PITA that I didn't even submit my name to the list.

(3) Promotion? Oddly, a promotion was actually mentioned to me when I gave notice, to try to entice me to stay, and it just had zero appeal to me at that point. Stress reduction was my goal at that stage.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:06 PM   #11
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(3) Promotion? Oddly, a promotion was actually mentioned to me when I gave notice, to try to entice me to stay, and it just had zero appeal to me at that point. Stress reduction was my goal at that stage.
I'm already at that stage. I don't want any more promotions. I've been promoted all I care to be promoted: a senior-level non-management position where the next "rung" up the ladder is management. No thanks.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 06-20-2010, 12:12 PM   #12
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I'm already at that stage. I don't want any more promotions. I've been promoted all I care to be promoted: a senior-level non-management position where the next "rung" up the ladder is management. No thanks.
My sentiments were the same. It sounds like I was at the same rung as you on the ladder. There comes a point when it just isn't worth it. When you consider the extra pay earned (which doesn't amount to so much after taxes), and then consider the ramped up and nearly lethal stress level that some jobs entail, it just isn't worth it. At least, it wasn't worth it to me at that stage, for that job. I might have felt differently earlier in my career.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:16 PM   #13
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I'm already at that stage. I don't want any more promotions. I've been promoted all I care to be promoted: a senior-level non-management position where the next "rung" up the ladder is management. No thanks.
One of my younger friends recently was talking about this. He enjoys being a developer, but has started to see that perhaps refusing to move into management means that he will many times have a boss who is intellectually and skill-set inferior to him, and who rather than concentrating on being a good manager may spend lot of energy trying to prove that he is technically as good or better than the more experienced people below him. Good bosses want very talented people on their teams; but as we all know good bosses are not real common, and bad bosses can feel threatened by sharp developers.

Ziggy, do you (or others) have any observations about this angle?

Ha
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:27 PM   #14
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One of my younger friends recently was talking about this. He enjoys being a developer, but has started to see that perhaps refusing to move into management means that he will many times have a boss who is intellectually and skill-set inferior to him, and who rather than concentrating on being a good manager may spend lot of energy trying to prove that he is technically as good or better than the more experienced people below him. Good bosses want very talented people on their teams; but as we all know good bosses are not real common, and bad bosses can feel threatened by sharp developers.

Ziggy, do you (or others) have any observations about this angle?
It sounds like these managers are clear examples of the Peter Principle. Some of my bosses had technical backgrounds and some didn't. And when these bosses *did* have technical skills, they (usually) used them just enough so they didn't completely rust (you never know when you'll need to get the resume out again) but that was about it. If they wanted to continue to be hot shot developers, they might refuse a promotion to management. And sometimes you don't even have to refuse an offer: my Megacorp has a series of internal training classes which helps to prepare senior staffers for management positions, and anyone who wasn't interested would just not take those courses.

Fortunately I'm at a place now where the culture doesn't look at someone as "defective" or as an inferior employee if they don't have the ambition to go into management.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 06-20-2010, 12:29 PM   #15
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The trick here is that your workload would actually *drop* 20% corresponding to a 20% reduction in pay. (And in reality, you'd probably have to pay an increased portion of your health insurance premium; maybe with 20% less responsibility and 20% less pay you might lose 20% of your employer health insurance subsidy.)

Being a salaried employee, I have doubts that if my employer somehow made a "deal" like this with me, my workload would actually drop by 20%.

My sister went to part time work... she used to call it her 24/7... she only had to work 24 hours in a 7 day period... once she reached that... she was gone.. She used to be able to get a few short vacations in when she would work the first 3 days of a week and the last 3 days of the next... the rest of the time was hers...

The person who has this agreement is the one that need to enforce it.. but then again, I think the same way for a 'normal' workload... you don't put in more than 40 on a regular basis.. to me, that is taking advantage of you also...
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:44 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Moscyn View Post
I attended a company organised talk on Ageing Population and its impact on companies. There was no surprise on the findings - the usual suspects of skills disappearing with baby boomers who are retiring. However, I was disappointed that the talk did not touch on what my company would do to encourage people to work longer. It wasn't that they did not care, they seemed to realise that this is a big problem and wanted the experienced staff to work longer. I guess if firms have a set of benefits or priorities for the "older" staff, it could be deemed discrimination. I don't think I would have resigned yet, if there were some arrangements of entitlement of taking 6 to 12 months sabbatical for employees who reach 50 and have been with the firm for a specified number of years. That would have worked for me. Is there anything your firm could have done to encourage you to work a few more years?
Yes, take a less short term view of the problem, and think of it in terms of its strategic impact. This kind of presentation has a single solution, silver bullet premise.

As there is no contract between and employer and and employee, and each is free to exercise his/her right to make a change, there can be no one single answer. The reality is that when a company has a culture that doesn't look to providing meaningful work, respect, and sense of contribution, there is no short-term solution to asking people to stay longer.

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Old 06-20-2010, 12:51 PM   #17
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This has been recognized as a problem for years and years, but absolutely nothing has been done to address it. I suspect that the lack of action largely stems from the fact that the problem is long term, not short term. The stock market is focused on the short term. Thus, the stock market punishes companies that attempt to do something about the potential loss of talent.
Ive observed, at least in software for aerospace/defense, a new business model. Hire 100 to 200 new college grads when a project comes in. Use a skeleton senior staff, supplemented with experienced contractors, to monitor and train the newbies, then after the software works, layoff half the trained newbies. After its delivered, select a few newbies, maybe as high as 5% to keep for maintenance and layoff the rest of the newbies and contractors. Repeat for the next program that comes in.

Since programs are funded yearly, every year companies flush their experienced staff and essentially start over. The former skeleton senior staff, plays musical chairs among the shrinking program chairs, eventually jumping to another program or company.



So, for the short term bottom line, the company makes it profit, senior management gets their bonus and the company stock does well.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:18 PM   #18
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Ive observed, at least in software for aerospace/defense, a new business model. Hire 100 to 200 new college grads when a project comes in. Use a skeleton senior staff, supplemented with experienced contractors, to monitor and train the newbies, then after the software works, layoff half the trained newbies. After its delivered, select a few newbies, maybe as high as 5% to keep for maintenance and layoff the rest of the newbies and contractors. Repeat for the next program that comes in.

Since programs are funded yearly, every year companies flush their experienced staff and essentially start over. The former skeleton senior staff, plays musical chairs among the shrinking program chairs, eventually jumping to another program or company.



So, for the short term bottom line, the company makes it profit, senior management gets their bonus and the company stock does well.
I did a month's contract work that involved something like that, the only problem was, by the time the month was up, they were on their 6th remake, they had not gotten anywhere because they had to keep restarting, because some particular mini group in the process would screw up. Completely remaking the process from scratch every year sounds like a recipe for disaster. Not to mention, that sort of model only works in a market glut, they are almost certain to go bankrupt when an inevitable shortage occurs.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:26 PM   #19
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I would be interested to know from the docs on the forum, whether this applies to physicians in the US at the present time. It certainly doesn't apply in Canada.
No, it does not. The supply of new doctors is very tightly controlled in the US so there isn't a large cadre of new docs fighting for a limited supply of jobs. I can't speak for other specialties but in EM your pay plateaus fairly quickly unless you decide to go the management route so an experienced, older physician doesn't cost you much (if any) more than a new grad.

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Old 06-20-2010, 01:27 PM   #20
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Ive observed, at least in software for aerospace/defense, a new business model.
Interesting. I used to work in aerospace, and I remember the "business model" as having a bunch of older contractors and consultants who were "triple dippers" -- usually they would join the military, put in their 20 and then get hired at a defense contractor for another 15-20 years. Then they'd "retire" and stay on as a contractor, collecting two pensions and fully-paid health insurance in addition to the hourly rate as a contractor/consultant.

Helluva gig if you can get it.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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