Jane Caro asks, “Why do hirers act like middle aged divorced men?” We’ve all noticed that middle aged women are frequently overlooked by companies and the advertising industry who want the looks and buying power of the young. Australian writer and social commentator, Jane Caro says that businesses ignore middle aged – an older – women at their peril.
While some parts of society are ready to write off Boomers as antiquated and irrelevant, but there are also those who appreciate the talents of Baby Boomers. They are willing to see beyond a wrinkle or two and acknowledge we may still have something to offer!
So what talents do Boomers bring to the table?
Self-reliance and confidence – we have lived long enough to know our minds and act accordingly.
Workaholic-ism- we’re sufficiently self-aware to know that we’re being expected to be slower or less productive, so we’re going to work harder than others to make sure those expectations are not met.
Dedication – we grew up with people who had worked for the same company for decades, so while we don’t expect gold watches, we are willing to stay the course.
Hierarchical expectations – we know where we stand in the pecking order and how hard we have worked to be there. We don’t appreciate other workers who have less traditional work ethics.
Leading and collaborating – we’ve been in many situations so we know how to get people to work together or collaborate on a project. We’ve had plenty of time to learn how to lead.
Adaptability – while it might be tempting to believe we are stuck in our ways, if we are still working, we’ve mastered a lot of new things and made huge changes over the years. As a result we are better able to adapt than you might imagine. We know that change can often be a positive force.
What do we expect in return?
Respect – even in a society where age is not regarded very highly, we Boomers like to be shown respect for our talents and what we achieve with them. We don’t need gold stars and lots of public acclaim, but we do appreciate a word of appreciation when we exceed your expectations.
So hiring a talented Baby Boomer may be a great move for your company. We bring hard won talents and people skills and expect remarkably little in return!
A recent study of single boomers found many very useful numbers about how 55+ single boomer women live. The study, commissioned by a home building company specializing in housing for different populations.
The first outcome was that women in the study want a healthier and more active lifestyle than they had in their child raising years. This is coupled with a strong sense of identity, positivity about life in the next few decades, and a strong sense of well being means that boomers are ready to move where they want to live.
With over 75% of respondents reporting that they exercise several times each week – and not just in a gym – new housing needs to provide horseback riding, biking and hiking if it is to appeal. Some found it strange that single boomer females were taking such good care of themselves, but it seems that a generation that fought for the rights of others is not going to sit back and wait for others to advocate for them.
Not only are Boomer women feeling good about themselves, but they have the money to buy into a community or lifestyle that fits the lives they want. The International Council of Shopping Centers found that people 55+ control over three-quarters of America’s, so while some Boomers are still recovering from the stock market crash, the majority are still doing very well.
With this disposable income at hand, Boomers tend to outspend other generations by an estimated $400 billion each year on consumer goods & services. In addition 50% of travel dollars are spent by Boomers, so no wonder companies are eager to see what our demographic wants from life.
What is very clear is that Boomers, and especially Boomer women are not planning to sit down, knit, and quietly fade away. After a lifetime of work in and out of the home, we are ready to spend the next few decades making the most of ourselves and our lives. We will travel, try now things, take care of ourselves and push the envelope as far as we can. The numbers are on our side!
In 2011 as the first Boomers turned 65 and were eligible to retire, it was expected that 10,000 people would retire each day. What happened instead suggests that Boomers are not ready to follow in the steps of earlier generations, as the expected surge in retirees simply hasn’t happened.
As with everything else Boomers have encountered, retirement is being re-envisioned. To find out what this looks like a survey was commissioned to see how over 2000 middle class pre-retirees planned to approach retirement. Their answers had them grouped into four categories: dreamers, calculators, second careerists and rat racers.
- Dreamers, 40% of the group planned to follow a fairly conventional route of leaving work completely, then using their time and money to pursue all the things work had prevented them from doing.
- Second Careerists, 20% of the group planned to leave their jobs and develop a second career around a passion project they had been nurturing for many years.
- Calculators, a further 20% planned on working until they had accumulated enough money to retire, and would postpone the decision as to when that time was on purely financial considerations.
- Rat racers, the final 20% of the group simply loved working too much to ever want to stop working, and so planned to never retire.
Each group had several additional subcategories, but it seems that less than half of the Boomers surveyed plan to have a traditional retirement. Even those who plan to have a conventional retirement, may find themselves recalled to work on short term contracts as needed, so even after “retiring” the lines are blurred between “work” and “retirement.”
Given that Boomers are choosing to continue to work for longer, what does this mean for the businesses that hire us?
Studies have provided some interesting data about the work habits and beliefs of Boomers:
- Workaholic: Boomers are a group who love to accomplish ever more and more. Because of this younger workers are perceived as being less committed or hardworking.
- Achievement oriented: Boomers are a loyal bunch, and want to work hard so the business will succeed. To do this we will take on projects that challenge us.
- Self-reliant: Having battled conventions for decades, Boomers will come up with different ways of doing things and don’t conform to conventions.
- Competitive: Through hard work and striving to achieve ever more, Boomers equate themselves with their position at work, so can be very competitive. Boomers like to know their place in the pecking order, and can find younger workers less eager to acknowledge their contributions.
People are living longer and have better health until substantially later than did earlier generations, Boomers have the energy and mental fitness to continue to be productive well in to their 80s.
With such a sea change in the way our generation is approaching “retirement” it will be fascinating to see how Boomers live – and work – during their “Golden Years”. What do you plan to do at 65?