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We recently spoke with a client of ours who was shocked to learn that a Baby Boomer employee who had just retired from their company had gone to work for a new start-up in their industry. Her frustrations were heightened by the fact that they can’t find enough new employees who are ready and able to dive in. As she put it, “Had I known he was still interested in working, I would have created something that would have worked for both of us!”

Sure, we have those Boomers who are retiring in the traditional way, but many Boomers not only enjoy working, but feel identified by their jobs. Others have a strong need to be fulfilled and make a difference. Still others must continue working to stay afloat financially. Not enough leaders are tuned in to Boomers who are far from wrapping it up and are only beginning to ramp it up—a golden opportunity in a time where talent is scarce, but a huge missed opportunity when no one is willing to talk about it.

Boomers have spent their careers carefully calculating every move up the ladder. This is the generation that mastered the art of formal and political communication in order to get ahead. After all, when you are part of a generation of 80 million all competing for advancement, you don’t have much choice but to watch not only every move, but every word. Years of practice, however, have resulted in a generation that isn’t about to walk into the office and announce their new retirement plans to jump ship and go work somewhere else.

And on the other side of the desk, too many leaders just assume that if there was something to talk about, Boomers would approach them, especially if the boss is a Generation Xer, since this cohort of 46 million is not only less competitive, but more than comfortable asking for time off to interview!

The good news is that Boomers don’t seem to be hanging up the towel; the bad news is companies are not tapping into this. Smart companies are creating new options for highly valuable senior workers. Boomers may want to work remotely or take on new roles. They may require different kinds of rewards and benefits or request new types of learning. But in the end, the smartest ones are at least talking about it. The life span for highly productive Baby Boomer employees will stretch, and leaders can break new ground in getting the most from them if they take the time to talk and strategize.

What are you doing to get the dialogues going before it’s too late and that valuable Boomer is not just gone, but working down the street for someone else?

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