Great Teams

Are Baby Boomers going back to the concerts and beaches and increasingly leaving the workplace!

31.10.21 06:51 PM By Mark Pym
Free image from getty

Back in 2015 the leading resource specialist firm Robert Half published a report of the pending skills shortages.

If we go back even further than this, to around 2002, I recall seeing some age-based HR data, for a large organisation in Suffolk and being shocked  at the potential forthcoming issue, with an ageing workforce. Over  2/3rds of the organisation, were over the age of 35 (and that was in 2002), which was clearly a problem in terms of manpower planning and forecasting.

This organisation has spent a fortune on technology (including driverless cabs and equipment), however it is still requires, in 2021, a large labour workforce.  

The baby boomer crisis has clearly arrived.

Born after the-Second World War and before 1965, baby boomers are associated with the soaring post-war birth-rate and the last generation to experience and take advantage of regular improvements in the socio-economic landscape.

Today many baby boomers have retired.  If you were born in 1960 that makes you 60 to 61 today. 

So, this great source of expertise and experience is beginning to leave the labour market, in their droves. I have also some great lifelong friends, who in their late 50’s are leaving their professions. This includes Accountants, Surveyors, HGV drivers, Nurses, Builders, Business Brokers, Chartered Quantity Surveyors, executives of some large organisations and  HR professionals. They have all took the choice, to leave the marketplace in the last few years. Skill shortages are now everywhere today, not least of all with skilled jobs such as HGV drivers in the transport sector and in the construction, health, retail and public services sectors.  

Recruitment Just Got Difficult!
​It is a fact that baby boomers represented a bulge in the workforce, with most now being at retirement age or approaching retirement.

With the new immigration policies in the U.K, it is increasingly difficult to buy in skills, especially semi-skilled people, although the recent changes look encouraging. Most of the tried and tested resourcing solutions, such as job boards, just are not delivering the results they were delivering 5 years ago.

In my own recent experience,  a company I was working for, had four vacancies in September with no applications, despite being on a number of the most popular job boards. So more so than ever, if you are looking for results, it is critical to create a compelling reason to be part of something special, that attracts high quality candidates and retains key team members. This is too important to be left to chance. 

Most individuals desire to belong to something that is bigger than themselves, where they feel they are part of something special and making a difference.


 As humans we thrive in collaborative environments,where there is a clear purpose and mutual accountability.  When you get this right and develop a clear purpose and identity for the team, with a great culture and working environment, it is magnetic and can literally attract and retain talent. It is just a matter of defining this and then telling the story at every juncture.

In the case of the vacancies in September, we re-positioned these and told our story and then re-targeted both passive and active candidates.  This led to one advert receiving 134 quality applications. 

Today, in the busy recruitment market  there is a lot of noise out there and often hundreds of adverts running for various disciplines. But when you read a job advert, with a compelling story, that connects with you, at a visceral level, it really stands out. There really is power in copyright skills, however this works even better when it connects to the story in the team and brings this alive.

So, my advice, to anyone who is struggling to meet their resourcing plans, with high turnover in the team, is to‘double-up’ on your effort to create a great workplace, where your teams have a clear identity, feel they are working towards a compelling purpose, in a collaborative and mutually accountable environment that connects with each person.  Even better if you can help your team grow and obtain new skills.  This is all part of being in a great team and community, where there is a far higher likelihood that team members will ‘hang around’ and focus on the task in hand, whilst others, through various channels, hear about what you are doing and want to be a part of something special.

Through this deep connection, we can feel more in control as we know what we are about and why we are here.  This is so important, given the last 23 months since the pandemic arrived. This displaced many people, teams, organisations, and countries, with many of us feeling like we are out of  control.  It is a basic human need to ‘feel in control’which is why we are seeing so many people starting to move jobs in the labour market and others (such as the baby boomer generation), seeking to leave the market.  Underneath all these activities is individuals, looking to get in control of their  lives, in what has been the most turbulent time we have seen in generations.  I guess this should not be a surprise, as we have all felt this uncertainty.  My personal view is that people seek certainty and clarity and ultimately want to try and feel in control of their lives. In a VUCA world, this is very difficult for organisations to offer this.

However, what you can offer is clarity of purpose and those aspects, such as a clear identity. a values led culture, mutual accountability, and growth, that help people connect deeply with their colleagues, team and the wider organisation.

And of course, the irony of this, is that these characteristics are central to high performing teams, which inevitable outperform other teams and may just offer more control and certainty in the long term!

What I am also sure about, is that as a HR profession, if we don’t help create these types of environments, we will probably see more and more people, checking out of the labour market and finding their way back to the concerts and beaches. Each to their own….