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Six ways your association can rock the labor shortage

gig economy

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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Are you doing what you can to be ready for retirement?


Following are a couple of tips, both for those in the early stages of their career and those of us getting closer to retirement.

To you young people out there, it is never too early to start saving for retirement. Here is a great example of how the value of your “nest egg” depends on when you start that savings.

A 25-year-old begins investing $5,000 for 11 years until the age of 35. Total invested is $55,000 but at the age of 60, the value of the retirement savings is $615,580 based on an 8% return. Imagine what that would look like if that 25-year-old kept it up until age 60! Next, a 35-year-old begins investing $5,000 and continues saving $5,000 per year until the age of 60. Total invested is $130,000 and retirement savings value is $431,754. So the 25-year-old only invested $55,000 and returned $615,580 where the 35-year-old invested twice as much and ended with $431,754.

It makes a huge difference if you are able to start early. If that isn’t an option, don’t despair, start now and put away as much as you can. Adjust some of your other spending habits to accommodate it. You won’t be sorry.

Perhaps a really easy way to increase the investment in your retirement savings is to take that annual raise or potential bonus and put at least half of it into your retirement savings. You won’t notice it gone because you never had it to begin with.
Remember if your company doesn’t provide a 401k or IRA plan, you still have the option to contribute to an IRA savings on your own.

Now, I admit, I am closer to retirement than I am to the start of my career. The big thing I have been working on is to get my investments consolidated down into two places. Throughout my career, with each successive move to a new employer, I would leave my old employer-sponsored 401k plan in place . My theory was that if I had my money stored in different retirement plans, I was diversified, right? The next thing I knew, I had money in eight different places. Well . . . as we age, having several different plans to manage becomes less and less of a good idea. Do you really want to go into retirement and have to deal with eight different investment companies? NO. You can still have a diversified portfolio without having your money in several places. So I set about getting all of my ducks into two ponds. Ahhhh, much easier to monitor the progress of two 401k’s rather than eight.

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