SHRM-AARP Poll Shows Organizations are Concerned about Boomer Retirements and Skills Gaps


April 9, 2012

Preparations Include Increased Skills Training and Targeted Benefits

Alexandria, Va. A joint poll released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and AARP shows that U.S. employers are ramping up skills training and employee benefits aimed at closing skills gaps left when Baby Boomers retire, and at retaining and recruiting older workers.

More than seven in 10—72 percent—human resource professionals polled described the loss of talented older workers to be “a problem” or “a potential problem” for their organizations.

HR managers said that the actions their organizations have taken to prepare for the loss of talented older workers who retire include the following:

  • increased training and cross-training (45 percent);
  • developed succession planning (38 percent);
  • hired retired employees as consultants or temporary workers (30 percent);
  • offered flexible work arrangements (27 percent); and
  • designed part-time positions to attract older workers (24 percent).

The poll, which focused on strategic workforce planning, also asked human resource professionals to identify the greatest “basic skills” and “applied skills” gaps between workers age 31 and younger compared with workers age 50 and older.

  • Basic skills – more than half (51 percent) of human resource managers indicated they find older workers to have stronger writing, grammar, and spelling skills in English;
  • Applied skills – more than half (52 percent) of human resource managers said older workers exhibit stronger professionalism/work ethic.

As background to the poll, SHRM and AARP took note of data from the Pew Research Center indicating that 10,000 Baby Boomers will reach age 65 every day during the next two decades. Already, in 2011, the oldest of the 77 million Baby Boomers began turning age 65—the traditional retirement age.

Despite the proactive steps being taken, the SHRM-AARP poll finds that many U.S. organizations are largely unprepared for the brain drain and skills void that talented, retiring older workers will leave. Roughly 71 percent of those polled still have not conducted a strategic workforce planning assessment to analyze the impact of workers 50 and older who will leave their organizations.

“Although we are encouraged to see that many organizations across the country are preparing for the challenge of Baby Boomer retirements, much more work needs to be done in both the short and long-term,” said SHRM President and CEO, Hank Jackson. “That is why we are working together with AARP to provide organizations and their HR professionals with the tools they need to retain and engage their older, experienced talent.”

“Older workers bring unique talents and skills to the workforce, and are a great asset to employers,” said Jean Setzfand, AARP’s vice president for financial security. “We are pleased to be joining forces with SHRM in providing resources to assist employers in determining their workforce needs.”

To help U.S. businesses and organizations, the two organizations offer numerous resources through their partnership, including:

  • AARP’s free, online Workforce Assessment Tool which provides a snapshot of an organization’s workforce and demographics and analyzes its programs to leverage the talents of its older workers. More than 3,000 organizations have utilized the tool.
  • The SHRM-AARP Partnership Resource Page on SHRM’s website. The resource page includes poll and survey findings, articles, and links to the assessment tool, among others.

The SHRM-AARP poll surveyed 430 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership. For details, visit the survey directly at or the BITLY at

The poll is one of several projects marking the SHRM-AARP partnership to raise awareness about older worker issues and to provide resources and strategies to address these issues.

Follow SHRM Research on Twitter @SHRM_Research.

For more news, follow @SHRMPress.

Follow AARP on Twitter @AARP.


About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter at

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, our bilingual multimedia platform for Hispanic members; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


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