A staffing recruiter with nearly 20 years of experience and based on the West Coast was recently in town for a family event. She took time away from this first family gathering in over two years for lunch with a colleague who is a recruiter at Abel Personnel. The two women had met at an annual national staffing association conference several years ago and had renewed their friendship each year at the conference. They would also occasionally be in touch between those events to consult with each other on how to leverage certain opportunities or diffuse unexpected setbacks. With the annual conferences having gone virtual, this was also the first time for them to meet in person since 2019. After catching each other up on their families’ lives, their discussion inevitably went to “talking shop:”
“When folks around here talk about the ‘Great Resignation,’ they act like all those people simply left the workforce.”
“I know what you mean. Over 80% resigned to take new jobs. Besides the total number who decided it was a good time to switch employers, what was incredible was how many quit without having a new landing spot lined up.”
“Still, that’s an amazing number that left the workplace. When I did exit interviews, I was intrigued by the number who decided to be a stay-at-home parent for a while, and those who were choosing early retirement, sometimes as many as five years earlier than planned.”
“But know what? I’m starting to hear from a number of those folks who are now reconsidering the choices they made during those months of lockdown.”
“I hear you. With most offices opening up now, more employment situations moving permanently to hybrid, and of course, the domestic or retirement life may not be all they thought it would be, I’ve not been surprised.”
“What surprised me is the initial pushback from employers. Some are unwilling to consider applicants who have been away from the workforce and only want to return as from-home workers, part-time, or as temps. They suddenly seem to forget how difficult it is to find skilled and experienced workers these days. All that flexibility they offered during the pandemic, and the employee goodwill they achieved, seems to be forgotten now”
“I am seeing the same reluctance to consider recent retirees now looking to return to the workforce. And these applicants are not asking for special conditions, necessarily. In many cases, they are interested in lower pressure positions and at lower pay, and part-time or temporary assignments.”
“So what’s the disconnect?”
“Those employers are looking to fill some of these positions with talent that is seeking a long-term career and advancement opportunity. These returning retirees are only looking for 3 to 5 years, assuming their health remains good.”
“Huh. Before the pandemic, those below senior management were switching jobs about every two years. We were thrilled when junior staff stayed on for three or more years.”
“Given the type of skills and experience these returning retirees bring to the workplace, and their lower expectations in terms of salary and advancement, Abel Personnel has begun to actively recruit and promote that talent segment.”
“We’ve reminded employers that many of these returning retirees do not require the training investment that younger staff need. No fretting about your training dollars walking out the door to benefit your competition.”
I like that pitch. Mind if I use it?
The luncheon ended a short time later, with both women hoping to be able to meet in person at this year’s national staffing conference. The Abel recruiter was excited to hear that recruitment of retirees was becoming “hot” on the West Coast, which inevitably presaged what started in Central Pennsylvania by several months. She would soon be searching her database for those under-70 retirees who might be reconsidering the leisurely life. She would raise this option with her clients who were frustrated in their search for staff somewhere in the position range above entry-level and but not necessarily career employees.