Bridge the Skills Gap: How to Nurture Boomers While You Can

At first glance, the news looks dire. Australia’s population is ageing at a steady clip, with the mass departure of 60-somethings set to devastate our business landscape. 

According to a 2019 Robert Half study, a whopping 86% of Australian hiring managers are worried about baby boomer retirements impacting their workforces in the decade ahead. 

In fact, 78% say it will be harder to find qualified professionals over the next five years. 

The boomer generation is on a retirement run. If you don’t address it, you’ll feel the heat as these trusted workers depart – taking years of hard-earned knowledge and expertise with them.  

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom, with smart employers already implementing strategies to prevent loss of valuable skills. 

  1. Mix and match 

43% of employers surveyed by Robert Half are developing cross-generational teams. There’s no better way for different age groups to learn from each other, fostering collaboration and mutual respect within the business. It’s a great way to broaden minds, strengthen the firm’s knowledge base and boost innovation. 

  1. Coach and mentor

42% of hiring managers are implementing mentoring/coaching programs. These bolster the confidence of boomer coaches and mentors, while offering workers a great chance to enhance their knowledge and learn new skills. This takes care of your on-boarding needs, also topping up the talent of existing staff. 

  1. Train hard

41% of hirers in the study are setting up training sessions involving all their employees. This is a smart way to ensure those decades of boomer expertise are handed down within the company. Catch it while you can – after all, 90% of Australia’s 5.3 million baby boomers are set for retirement by 2029. 

  1. Capture experience

39% of hiring heads surveyed are building online platforms where everyone can contribute their experience. By encouraging input to these digital platforms, businesses can build a future-proofed data bank of knowledge. 

  1. Shine a light

38% of employers in the study are using specialist systems to highlight winning ingredients. Digital tracking of successful former projects can help identify the best building blocks and strategy for future business ventures. 


  1. Be flexible

Flexible work schedules can help mature employees create and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Consider part-time, flexible hours and work from home options. You will end up with happier, calmer and more engaged employees. 

  1. Respect your elders

The Australian Human Rights Commission reports that more than a quarter of Australians aged 50-plus have been at the pointy end of age discrimination in the workplace between 2017 and 2019. With Australia’s retirement age rising from 66 to 67 by 2023, mature workers will spend longer in the workplace. So, why not treat them with the respect they deserve? 

  1. Lead and learn

Yes, even workers nearing the end of their careers want to go on expanding their skills and opening their minds. Employers who offer boomers workplace stimulation and new opportunities are likely to be rewarded with enhanced performance.  

Incentives like this could encourage boomers to delay retirement, easing the generational workplace transition. You will also contribute to the broader economy. According to an Australian HR Institute research report in 2018, increasing paid employment for Australians aged 55-plus by just three per cent would boost the national economy by $33 billion every year. 

  1. Think leverage!

It’s important to nurture experienced employees, who are perhaps your most valuable assets in preparing for the future. By leveraging the accumulated skills and expertise of baby boomers, you can help fill the hole left as these workers depart.  

So why not take a fresh look at your succession planning? A proactive approach to these generational challenges can protect your business from damaging skills gaps.