Attracting and Hiring Baby Boomers to Your Company

Boomers are ambitious — always have been, always will be. That said, an emerging trend is Boomers’ increasing interest in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Having successfully climbed the corporate ladder and accumulated the things their parents couldn't afford, Baby Boomers seem to have experienced a resurgence of concern about social and environmental issues.

This reawakening is due in part to the importance of CSR among Generation Y workers. Indeed, working alongside this younger generation seems to have inspired Boomers to levels of activism they may associate with their youth.

Smart organizations include CSR activities as a hiring hook to lure Baby Boomers. Many older workers who view themselves as being “on the back nine” of their careers are more inclined than ever to bypass the big paycheck (and related pressure) to take on a job with a more altruistic theme.

Other recruitment hooks for this generation include job variety, travel, opportunities to learn new skills, and opportunities to teach and mentor younger workers. For more on CSR, see Chapter 6.

Everyone knows the saying “You can't teach an old dog new tricks.” But the thing about that saying is, it's wrong. You can teach an old dog new tricks. You just have to know what training method to use!

When it comes to training Boomers, you'll want to keep these points in mind:

  • Include team activities. Yes, everyone says they hate team activities, role playing, and experiential exercises. But in course evaluations, team activities almost always get the highest marks. See, people say they don't like these activities, but they dislike sitting in a chair for hours, being lectured to, and looking at PowerPoint slides even more.

    If done well, team activities can be incredibly effective ways to teach and engage Boomers (as well as other generations). In fact, based on research by the National Training Laboratories in Arlington, Virginia, hands-on training is effective with 75 percent of people, second only to teaching others.

  • Let participants experience different team roles. Job rotation, even on a temporary basis, is a great way to reinforce learning with Baby Boomers. It will also build greater understanding of and appreciation for others’ jobs — the “walk a mile in her shoes” thing.

  • Align training with the company's strategic plan. Boomers are goal driven. The more a company can link learning with organizational goals, the better. If employee engagement is a strategic goal of the company, Boomers are far more likely to embrace engagement-training initiatives.

    Training “stickiness” is greatly enhanced when the engagement workshop is connected to the organizational goals. Decoupling from organizational goals turns the learning opportunity into a “flavor of the month.”

  • Allow time after training for participants to evaluate. The best evaluations to weigh the effectiveness of training occur 60 to 90 days after the learning event. Waiting two or three months provides you with feedback on whether the participants are applying the learning in their jobs.

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