But I don't think this situation will last long. One of the reasons for this is the baby boomer retirement crisis.
Some baby boomers are not ready to retire, and they will have to work longer than the customary retirement age. This might be due to job loss or the stock market or a pension plan that didn't materialize, or even a simple lack of preparation, but many will have to work longer than they thought they would.
But many will retire, and they'll leave plenty of job openings behind.
So what effects will the aging baby boomers have on the workplace? I have a few ideas.
1. Older workers might not want a standard full-time schedule, even though they're not ready to retire. Some might have health concerns that prohibit long hours. Others might want to travel. Some might even just be working to keep their benefits. But where a full-time schedule is taxing or even no longer wanted, employers have lots of options, including: hiring older workers as contractors or consultants, setting up mentorships between older and younger workers, offering different scheduling options, retirement transitioning programs, and more.
2. A shortage of qualified workers. Though some people will stay employed longer than previous generations did, the sheer numbers of baby boomers at retirement age indicate there will be enough people retiring to leave some serious gaps. It may become harder for employers to attract people to their organizations, so they'll have to create bigger incentives. During the second world war, when there was a labor shortage, employers did the obvious: they recruited women. I'm already seeing this trend developing, but I expect it to continue, and I expect employers to offer more attractive, family-friendly options for parents who might otherwise choose to be home.
3. A need for elder care support in the workplace. Not that I'm trying to say baby boomers are incapacitated, but let's face it--as you age, your health suffers, sometimes unpredictably so. Many families are already caring for their elders. Some are caring for children at the same time. Many employees are already missing work or are quitting in order to help aging family members. Many come to work exhausted because of all their responsibilities at home. The impact on the workplace is huge, and will only grow. Employees need to have additional sources of support, especially at work, because this can directly impact their work performance. Workplaces could help by offering elder care referral services, support groups, and more.
Things are changing quickly. We become accustomed to a certain working mindset, and we're often surprised when circumstances change around us. The workforce can change, and so do the individuals comprising it. But if we support each other and encourage each other through those changes, we can make those transitions as easy as possible for everyone.