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The Great Unretirement is now upon us

May 26, 2022

By Gail Lethbridge

You’ve heard of the Great Resignation. Well, it seems that trend is leading to a new phenomenon: The Great Unretirement.

When Boomer-aged workers began leaving the workplace, many discovered they weren’t quite ready for a life of unpaid leisure. 

Think NFL superstar quarterback Tom Brady, 44, who retired after 22 years with all the silverware and nothing left to prove. It now appears he too is not quite ready for retirement.

Exiting Boomers are leaving a gaping hole in the job market. The labour shortage is a challenge for businesses that are scrambling for workers. It is also a challenge for the economy.

So who will replace the Boomers?

Well, as it turns out, the Boomers themselves could be part of the solution. We could call this The Great Replacement. 

Many, like Brady, have decided they want to continue working for many reasons. They like the stimulation and the purpose of work-life and want to share their knowledge with younger workers. Some workers want to use their skills to “give back” to charities and not-for-profit organizations.

Inflation may not be a problem for Brady, but for many Boomers, rising costs  and uncertain market conditions are forcing a rethink of retirement. 

Many Boomers are also supporting Millenial-aged children who are facing huge student loan debts, skyrocketing rents and little hope of homeownership without the help of Mom and Dad.

“The unretirement trend is emblematic of what we’re seeing in the labour market overall, which is seeing increasing labour force participation for a broad swath of workers,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at the job platform Indeed.

Employers are facing a talent shortage

After a period of downsizing and retirements, employers are now realizing that the Boomer workers who left the workplace took with them a boatload of talent and knowledge.

The talent shortage is particularly evident in the banking and accounting sectors. It is also a problem in the skilled trades.

If employers wish to tap this rich market of experienced workers, they will have to think differently about the positions they offer and the way the hire.

Experienced workers want flexibility. Many want to work remotely and on a part-time basis with control over their hours. They also want contract positions for a limited period of time.

Like Brady, many will find a rewarding career in Unretirement.

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