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Workplace Flexibility: Not Just for Millennials

Although the median expected retirement age is 65 and many baby boomers are retiring, that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped working or that they want to stop working. In fact, 28% of "retired" baby boomers are still employed. And it might surprise you to learn that they value workplace flexibility almost as much as millennials do.

Millennials value flexibility – 74% want flexible work schedules. But so do baby boomers. And because you already can find hundreds, maybe even thousands of articles about how to make millennials more comfortable in the workplace, we thought we’d mix it up by outlining how flexible work arrangements can benefit the older generation.

After all, retaining these employees is a smart business move. Older workers have many valuable traits. They bring experience and maturity to their jobs, and may be more dependable than employees juggling conflicting mid-life priorities.

So here’s how you can accommodate baby boomers’ flexwork preferences.

1. Be flexible with where they work.

One company offers a “snowbird” program where they allow hundreds of their older pharmacists living in Northern states to work the winter months in warmer Southern states. Since it’s not uncommon for retirees to want to fly south for the winter, if you have offices down there that they could transfer to for a season, let them.

You can also allow your older workers to telecommute. While telecommuting isn’t for everyone, some older workers want to cut back on commute times while still working, and working from home, whether full time or a few days a week, allows them to do so. And no matter where an employee works, today’s tech tools allow effective collaboration to still happen.

2. Offer flexible schedules.

Of the 61% of retired baby boomers who are currently working, they’re working because they want to work. They don’t want to retire and find a new hobby to keep them busy. They like working, but many of them do want to slow down a bit and work part time or on a project basis.

Flexible schedules make a difference in retainment, so let your employees work part time by coming in three days a week or working shorter shifts every day for just 4-5 hours. You can also allow flexibility when they come into and leave work, instead of requiring a traditional 9-5 work schedule. Or if you have positions for time-limited projects, offer them one of those positions.

3. Engage them as mentors.

Older workers can remain in the labor force as mentors or senior advisers to new and younger employees. If you want to run a multigenerational business, having older workers train and share their knowledge with younger ones is a great way to better retain both groups – and to bridge the generational gap.

Mentoring is also a less stressful job that lets older workers slow down while still doing something they’re passionate about.

We're not saying that you should only offer this flexibility to baby boomers. Offering flexibility in the workplace to all your employees increases your chances of attracting, hiring and retaining talented employees of all ages.

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