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Every day in the United States, 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65, a trend that will continue until 2029, when the last boomers reach the traditional age of retirement. This mass exodus from the work force is already creating a vacuum of skills and experience. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that replacing retiring Baby Boomers is one of the key challenges facing HR professionals.

Despite the demographic facts, few organizations have planned for how to retain and accommodate an aging workforce, according to the SHRM report, The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages. Most employers are taking a wait-and-see approach to labor and skills shortages.

This demographic phenomenon presents associations with an opportunity to step up with solutions. How? By offering education, benefits and networking opportunities that support older employees who want to remain active participants in the work force.

Here are six ideas for how your association can serve older members, based on my experience as a boomer who counts herself among the many who expect to work well past 65.

Technical skills training. Everyone knows how quickly technology changes, but many employers continue to hold onto the notion that older workers can’t learn new technology. This is a generation that went off to college with manual typewriters and slide rules; we have a demonstrated ability to adapt. What training can you offer to help all of your members learn new technical skills?

Industry knowledge. Sure, we’ve “been there, done that,” but we still need to stay current in trends and developments in our field. Is your association the go-to source for developments in your industry? Are you ahead of the curve in reporting industry news? In addition to offering original content, do you help members sift through the avalanche in their in box by curating information from other sources?

Flexibility. Many older workers work part time or on a contract basis. Some choose to work in the “gig economy” because they want more control over their schedules or they are away part of the year. Others are caring for grandchildren or aging parents (or both). Or, part-time or freelance work may be the only gig they can find. How can your association offer these members the flexibility they need?

Affordability. Because employers can be reluctant to invest in the professional development of aging employees or contract workers, your older members are more likely to be paying their own membership dues and registration fees. What are some ways you can offer affordable opportunities to participate in your organization? Can you offer a membership category for part-time employees or freelancers? How about meeting for breakfast or happy hour instead of hosting more costly dinners?

Networking opportunities. If you’re part of the gig economy, you’re always looking for the next job. Members of all ages want opportunities to network that involve more than a business card exchange. How can your association help members make meaningful connections and showcase their expertise? When you’re looking for a guest blogger or workshop presenter, consider inviting older members.

Camaraderie. One of the reasons people continue to work past retirement age is the sense of belonging that comes with the workplace. Associations are ideally suited to offer members the social benefits of working together for a purpose. What are some innovative ways your association can involve members who have “graduated” from board and committee service but still want to be a part of the group?

While much has been written about recruiting and retaining younger members, I encourage you to consider how you can engage older members. In the end, we participate in associations for the same reasons younger members do – professional development, social interaction and a commitment to a common goal. Rock on!

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Wiseman - Millennials

Narcissistic. Entitled. Distracted. Lazy. Most people who know me wouldn’t use those words to describe me (but they would likely say I’m obsessed with food). However, they are words often used to describe my fellow generation of Millennials (surprise! I’m as young as I look). Nearly every time I visit LinkedIn, I come across an article declaring why you should fear Millennials in the workplace or an infographic displaying what horrible people we are compared to Baby Boomers.

Lucky for me, Lynda Patterson, president/owner of AMPED, has recognized all of the great things about Millennials. Really—go take a look at how fresh-faced we are (please don’t guess which one of us are really Millennials and which ones have just discovered the fountain of youth). Here is the gist of actual conversation between Lynda and me after she returned from a conference with other AMC owners:

Lynda: You are a Millennial, right?
Me: Yes.
Lynda: Shouldn’t I be scared of you?
Me: No.
Lynda: I didn’t think so. I just got back from hearing other executives gripe about how Millennials are so difficult to work with and I couldn’t understand what they were talking about!

Let’s go over a few reasons why you should take a page from the AMPED playbook and not be afraid of Millennials as employees and colleagues:

We are smart …
Do I sound narcissistic? Yes. But it’s true! According to a study by the Pew Research Center, Millennials are the “best educated group of young adults in US history”—1/3 of us have earned at least a four-year college degree. We also started school right as tuition rates exploded, which likely means we actually want to learn. Why else would we take on an average of $30,000 in debt?

… and want to continue to learn.
Some Millennials may be freshly out of college, but learning is still our top priority. A survey from the UNC Kenan-Flager Business School for Forbes revealed that 65% of Millennials rank personal development as the most influential factor in our current jobs and 22% see training and development as the most valued benefit. In an EdAssist study of Millennials, 60% would pick a job with the potential for continued professional development over one with promised pay raises. The same study revealed that Millennials will stay at a company longer for access to learning. At AMPED, we are encouraged to pursue higher education and are even reimbursed for courses related to our jobs.

We are efficient …
We may be “technology obsessed,” but it has made us pretty darn efficient. If we expect everything to be on-demand, we better be on-demand ourselves. Our tech-savviness allows us to focus on the big picture and not get hung up on the technical details of a task. But we don’t always need to rely on technology! Part of the reason we prefer face-to-face meetings over a phone call or email is because a) we are collaborative and b) face-to-face is so much more efficient! There’s no need to go back-and-forth fifty times over email; let’s just get together and get stuff done!

… and great at multitasking.
Okay, fine. Apparently multitasking isn’t really a thing. We are “serial taskers,” our brains can quickly switch from task-to-task (sounds pretty efficient to me). This especially comes in handy when working in an environment such as an AMC, doing various tasks for several different client associations and needing to “flip the switch” as soon as a phone call comes in for a different client.

The next time you come across the typical “Millennials are scary!” article, keep in mind that we aren’t that bad. We also brought you Snapchat, Facebook, Airbnb, and Groupon.

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