How to Identify Postwar, Workaholic Boomers in the Workplace

By Maria Gamb

The parents of the Baby Boomers (born 1943–1960) were traditionalists. The Boomers grew up in a postwar era of growth fueled by patriotism. They watched their parents work hard and the American dream unfold. The United States entered a period of great prosperity while Boomers were in their formative years. As they became young adults, human rights movements dominated the headlines, and the sexual revolution unfolded. During this time, they learned that hard work equals success; what could have been perceived as a material approach to the world around them began to shift into wanting to do something good in the world.

Here is a snapshot of the events and people who influenced Boomers:

  • Events shaping their world: Civil rights, women’s rights, and gay rights movements, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the OPEC oil embargo, the sexual revolution, the advent of birth control, and the second highest divorce rate in history, as well as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert Kennedy.
  • Famous figures: Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Gloria Steinem, Rosa Parks, The Beatles.
  • Emerging technology: The microwave oven.
  • What they learned to value: Hard work, patriotism, authority, equal rights, equal opportunities, optimism, personal growth, wanting to make a difference in the world, resisting authority but then conforming.
  • Prevailing attributes: Challenge authority, live to work, optimism, political correctness (PC), willingness to take responsibility, competitiveness, ambition, consumerism, capitalism, diplomatic communications.
  • Work motto: “Live to work.” Work is their life.

Late Baby Boomers will retire around 2025 or later if they choose to work beyond age 65. All Baby Boomers will retire, of course, but situations such as the need to finish paying off mortgages and student loans keep them working. (Did you know that if you still have a student loan debt at the time you begin to collect Social Security, if you’re still working, your earnings will be garnished for what’s owed?) In addition, rising medical costs make employee benefits such as health insurance a very enticing reason to stay. Other Boomers just love the challenge of work and keeping their brains engaged and learning. This phenomenon isn’t restricted to the United States. In 2011, the U.K. abolished the default retirement age of 65, thereby preventing employers from automatically retiring workers. Due to many factors, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that workers over 65 account for a noteworthy percentage of the population, as you can see here.

vbl-boomers
Population working beyond age 65.

Although the data doesn’t state the specifics within each country contributing to the rise in late retirement, the global financial crisis of 2008 put a dent in many individuals’ plans. The immigration population worldwide also continues to circulate more Baby Boomers in the workforce. The European Union has fluid borders allowing citizens to work more easily in any nation within the EU. Technology is another big factor — the next evolution in telecommuting from India to Chicago isn’t far away. National borders can’t stop the globalization of the talent pool.