Bridge Insights

How to Lure Old Workers Back into the Workforce from the Great Lie Down

Jul 13, 2023

The Great Resignation has received a lot of attention over the past few years.  For those of you who may not be as familiar with it, The Great Resignation started at the beginning of COVID where employees were voluntarily resigning from their jobs.   This obviously shocked and affected employers in many ways, one being left with open positions to fill in an extremely competitive environment.

So, who took part in The Great Resignation, simple answer, everyone. It did not matter what role they held, people were starting to put themselves first and seek better opportunities.  However, one group of individuals who were leaving their roles at a fast pace has proven to be extremely difficult to replace and has hit employers where it counts. We are talking about The Great Lie Down.  Individuals who were nearing retirement decided to retire early rather than getting laid off, finding a new job from being laid off, honestly did not want to put up with the stressors and politics from their job, and many other reasons. Upon initial thoughts, one would think this could be a good thing for the new generations! Great opportunities and doors have opened for others and things can be run differently. But what if we told you companies are trying to bring their previous employees back from retirement?  

Why? For starters, when these seasoned professionals quit their job, they took all their knowledge and expertise. Individuals moving into these roles are not receiving the mentorship they would have in the past. People are left at having to figure the best practices out on their own, and frankly it is taking some time and leaving ripples in the meantime. Secondly, there is not another working generation that is as devoted and hard working as this one. Companies need individuals back who come to work, put their head down, and do not leave until the job is finished.  Lastly, leadership. They need individuals back working for their companies who can manage and lead teams.  

Talk about a great feeling getting approached by your previous employer or even a new company. Actually feeling needed and wanted again, many have said they felt the opposite prior to making the decision to retire. But it is not going to be that easy to lure someone out of retirement.   

What should employers consider changing to lure these individuals back? 

Equals: For those who choose to stay in a production or support role throughout their career versus moving into a managerial or leadership type of position.  They want to be seen as an equal to their coworkers.   

Flexibility: Many of these individuals have always put their job first over their family and personal well being.  They are now looking for flexibility, a better work life balance.  Whether this means working only 40 hours a week, not being locked to an 8:00AM -5:00PM Monday through Friday work schedule or having an option to work hybrid or remote.   

Respect: They are looking to be seen as an individual and not a work horse.  They also want to be respected by all individuals within the company.  Many individuals from the younger generations think they are smarter and more valuable to the company.  Therefore, they are not respectful to this generation and lack teamwork.    

Voice: Finally, they want to be heard.  Rather than just being worker bees.  They want their opinions and ideas to be heard.  They want to be able to share their insight on day-to- day processes, projects, business functionality, growth, etc..    

Overall, people are looking to be treated as such. When someone feels like they are valued and wanted, you will have a dedicated employee. Let’s be honest, we need this generation still in the workforce. The amount of knowledge, productivity, and frankly how many there are, companies will not be able to continue at the level they are operating at if they lose the baby boomer generation.  So, if you have a position that you have not been able to fill or are struggling to find the right person for your opening. Consider looking at individuals who have retired. They are not asking for the world.