From the CEO: Addressing the Aging Workforce

With 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age every day, HR must focus on the so-called “silver tsunami.”

By Henry G. Jackson Oct 23, 2014

1114-Cover.gifDemographers call it the “silver tsunami”: a rising tide of older workers that threatens to overwhelm institutions and systems from retirement to health care to employment. Others simply call it “the aging workforce,” which sounds less alarming. But by any name, the challenge facing U.S. businesses, government and society as the workforce ages and the Baby Boomer generation retires is real. And after many years of anticipation, it has arrived.

The proof is in the numbers. Since 2011, roughly 10,000 U.S. Baby Boomers have turned 65 each day. This year, the youngest Boomers turn 50. While the Great Recession did slow the number of retirements in recent years, the percentage of retired Baby Boomers has nearly doubled since 2010. It is clear we need to focus with even greater urgency on this challenge to the nation’s ability to effectively compete in the global marketplace, and to develop and implement solutions to address it. Fortunately, many organizations have begun this important work.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the SHRM Foundation are proud to take a leading role, collaborating with some of the world’s most venerable organizations on aging-

workforce issues. In partnership since 2010, SHRM and AARP have developed programs, research and practical resources to help HR professionals and employers retain, engage and develop experienced talent. These materials are available at and

In addition, earlier this year SHRM and the SHRM Foundation launched a national, three-year Aging Workforce Initiative, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, to highlight the value of older workers and best practices for employing them. This initiative will include first-of-its-kind research and educational resources aimed at helping you and your employers understand and respond to the issues of an aging workforce. For more information, visit

Finally, HR Magazine continues to be one of the key tools SHRM uses to inform you about critical issues such as the aging workforce and how to address them. In this issue, for example, the feature “Wisdom of the Ages” describes how employers can develop knowledge transfer programs to harness the skills and knowledge of all generations in today’s diverse workforce. You’ll also find a special SHRM-AARP supplement, which includes my view on the role of HR in addressing the challenges of an aging workforce as well as new AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins’ perspective on the value of older workers and how employers can leverage the talents of a multigenerational workforce.

As the clock continues to tick, HR leaders across the country will increasingly be called upon to address the varied challenges of a fast-aging workforce. I know that, as SHRM members, you are up to this task. As always, SHRM is committed to providing you the support you need to be successful.

For many years, we’ve heard the warning call for the “silver tsunami.” Now, it’s time to act.

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