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Recycled Boomers By David Smith on Jul 12, 2021

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A few things have transpired in the past few weeks. Firstly, Deloitte settled the legal action taken by a partner in respect of their mandatory retirement age of 62. They’re not alone in having retirement age provisions in partnership/shareholder agreements. Such provisions have been around for 50 years or so to ensure that older practitioners do not hang on too long and to make way for the future generations.

And then the government produced the next iteration of its intergenerational report. The report noted the decline in the fertility rate. The report also noted that the current number of four working age people for every person over 65 will drop to 2.77 in four decades time. Of course changes to migration might have a significant impact on these numbers but it does seem clear that there is going to be a looming shortage of working age people.

Perhaps change is already happening. As someone who is already in the so-called retirement age category, I find that very few of my cohort are fully retired. Many may be working less hours but there does seem to be a desire by many to keep mentally active and to gain the satisfaction of being able to contribute to business and society. 

So perhaps for many firms that are struggling to find the labour, considering opportunities to engage older Australian in their business should form part of the business plan. 

Many baby boomers are reasonably tech savvy having been the generation that drove the PC revolution of the 1980s. Sure they may need some training on the latest tech but most are not starting from scratch. It is a state of mind though. In recruitment, you need to find people who are flexible and willing to learn, not stuck in their ways. Boomers are constantly being told to learn new skills as a way to keep the brain alive! 

Baby boomers also bring to the firm a few things. Many are just content to get the job done so can be less disruptive and more productive. But perhaps the most important attribute is the wisdom of age. Nothing can replace experience. Mistakes are great teachers. Baby boomers can make great mediators, mentors and coaches. If you’re looking to build services such as business advisory, succession or estate planning, the perspective and mediation skills of boomers can be invaluable.

Of course, some flexibility is needed on both sides. Most baby boomers don’t want to work full time. Many would probably prefer to work mostly from home. Some may like to take longer holidays and join the ever increasing number of grey nomads. Many may be doing community work and will need to fit those obligations with their work. 

Many are probably not suited to modern day people management. Some might need some re-education around the various policies that have come into existence in the past few years.

Some may be well suited to take on administrative roles in the firm freeing up practitioners and managers to more productive work thereby increasing firm capacity.

So in a world where it is increasingly difficult to find quality labour we need to look under every rock possible. Perhaps you need to place an advert in an investment magazine or the latest edition of Caravaning Australia. With a satellite dish perhaps they can be doing tax returns from the Simpson Desert. 

Firms that manage to crack this nut will unlock opportunities to increase capacity and to capitalise on the wise experienced heads in your business and give older Australians an opportunity to continue to contribute. 

Seek out that Probus Club and start your recruitment drive. 

David Smith conducts strategic planning workshops for firms to help set a path for the future direction of the firm to unlock the opportunities and confront the risks. If you’d like to discuss your firm’s strategic plan contact him at [email protected].


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