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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baby Boomers @ Work

By the end of 2014, every Baby Boomer will be age 50 or over.  The generation born between 1946 and 1964 that has reshaped every phase of life is challenging how, when or if their working years end. There is a glaring disconnect, because Corporate America is youth obsessed. While I am not giving business a green light on its behavior, it is easy to understand how this happened.  
Thirty-six years ago, my professional career began at a medical publishing company in downtown Chicago. The executives smoked in their offices, drank heavily at lunch and retired promptly at 65. A couple of years after the hard-driving, uber-traveling, carb-fed publishing executives retired; they died. American life expectancy has increased nearly twelve years since Boomers were born which also extends midlife careers. It is not just how long we are living as much as how well Boomers are living. Our generation is not focused on merely surviving into our 60s, 70s and 80s—we totally expect to thrive. At work, the Gen-X and Millennials are not quite sure how they feel about our sustained ambition. As the younger generations move into hiring and management roles, some want Boomers to take a permanent seat on a chaise by the pool and stay out of the office.
What are the implications for our careers?
1)      Focus on your immediate supervisor. If you have a good relationship with your boss and they value you and your work; they can shield you from corporate dysfunction.  However, while the good boss is there, you need to build other allies. I remember my all-time favorite direct supervisor taking a new position in California. His replacement wiped out all but one director in our department. Fortunately, my internal mentor was in a position to insure I made a soft-landing in another part of the organization where I stayed another six years. Your company can be on the list of best companies for older workers, but if your boss doesn’t support you—none of that matters.
2)      After age 40-Every Job is a Temp Job. It used to be 50, but the age of business irrelevance ratcheted down as tech innovation skyrocketed. Unless you are a software application developer, network and computer systems administrator, engineer or CPA---once you get in your forties, career moves must be strategic. Why do you want to work for this company? Is this a job or a career move? Evaluate the total reward package-salary, long & short-term employee benefits, perks and work/life environment. Are the employee benefits low and the 401(k) match high? Is there an attainable pension? In a small company-can you buy an equity position? The Employee Benefit Research Institute saw job tenure increase to 5.4 years in 2012 (for males it is less).
3)      The Safety Net has a Hole In It: Once upon a time jobs in the public sector were considered “safe” and jobs in health care never had lay-offs. Welcome to the 21st century, the game changed. Hospitals are doing more with less (people, that is) and even patient-facing jobs need less people as care moves home ASAP. The home health aide is not making nearly the salary of workers in an acute care setting. Government workers can remind you of the shut down in October. And local governments are filing bankruptcy and ditching pension responsibilities as fast as Kardashians are getting divorced. Choose your industry wisely, but stay open to change.
4)      Develop Yourself: Companies pay for training that benefits the organization—legal training so you are aware of what is considered harassment or regulatory training- so if you do something wrong-you’re fired.  If you are in the succession plan, you may score management training specifically for the next level. Staying relevant at 40+? Learn how to use social media strategically to network and for job search. Learn a foreign language if it fits into your future career plans. Get a Bachelors degree online if you don’t have one already.
5)      Manage Your Emotional Intelligence: Crying at work? Very 1980s-no longer tolerated. Managers that scream at employees? Once one employee gets worker’s comp for stress b/c of your “leadership” unless you own the company—you are out! Screaming, bellowing and belittling employees-very 1990s. Arrogance? Check your ego at the door and save it for your friends outside of work. CEOs and GMs can still get away with being prima donnas at large organizations, but for everyone else, your EQ, like your reputation will follow in 5.4 years when you make your next job move. Social media sites like Glassdoor, Twitter and industry specific are searched by recruiters and hiring officials—so it is more like a glass house. Too much online chatter is a red flag to the elite executive recruiters.

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