Yes, I am smack in the middle of the Baby Boom generation (1946 to 1964) having been born in 1954. At age 66 and having spanned a work history that started when I was 16, I’ve been in the world of work for 50 years. Talk about “been there done that” – “earned the t-shirt”! Each generation has social and political events that impacts its generational personality. Baby Boomers have witnessed and lived through a lot of change in the business world, as well as events on a world scale: civil rights, Vietnam, political scandals, major recessions, mass shootings, technological advances, organizational downsizings, 9/11 to name a few. And now COVID-19.
COVID-19 is different though. It has impacted our nation, the world. Never have we experienced the unprecedented events of shuttering non-essential business and quarantining people to their homes in an effort to prevent the spread of a virus at such a large scale. COVID-19 strikes at the heart and is particularly scary for my fellow Boomers and our Traditionalist parents as we are most vulnerable.
As an HR Consultant at Wipfli since 1992, I’ve had the privilege to work with so many businesses over the years, to see how they operate and help them reach their goals with their employees. It is an incredibly rewarding career that I have truly loved. After 50 years of working, my intention, as is the case with many Boomers, was to transition to a little less work and devote more time to travel, visiting friends and family – to enjoy more of what I’ve worked hard to achieve, especially while I’m still healthy.
The biggest issue for Boomers of course is what happened to the value of our retirement plans in recent weeks. I wish I had pulled my 401(k) out of the market on March 1 and moved into a more conservation position, but I did not. I’m not a gambler, so this roller coaster ride with the market is stressful. While I am confident in our country’s ability to turn the COVID-19 recession around, especially with all the stimulus money, it is still scary and stressful.
The plan is/was to cut back to half-time starting June 1 and ease into retirement over the next couple of years – quitting work cold-turkey is not a pleasant thought for many Boomers – we love what we do! As employers, I think it is imperative to look at what you can gain by retaining many of your highly experienced staff in some way, shape or form. In these unprecedented times, it’s probably not a good idea to lose talented team members that bring a perspective of “this too shall pass” and to bring calm in the face of this raging storm.
So, maybe I will work a little longer, take fewer trips, leverage technology to stay connected with loved one, and be thankful that I have a terrific job, good health, a loving family, and wonderful friends. Because I know that together we will get through this--just as we have navigated challenging and difficult times in the past.