Businesses Try to Stave-off Brain Drain as Boomers Retire

Go Lean Commentary

A consistent theme in the book Go Lean…Caribbean is that communities need their economic engines optimized, otherwise their citizens would simply leave. The book, and subsequent blog/commentaries, posit that the reality of the recent global financial crisis has resulted in an even higher abandonment rate among Caribbean communities. Another dynamic have now become prominent: families are having less babies.

This means, from a strictly supply-and-demand basis, older workers will be pressured to retire later and stay on with their employers longer.

This point was highlighted in the Go Lean book with the acknowledgement that the Aging Diaspora is a new Agent-of-Change for the Caribbean to contend with (Page 57). The book specifically identified that the demographics of the Caribbean was altered in the decades following World War II. Many members of the Caribbean Diaspora availed themselves of opportunities in Europe and North America during the rebuilding efforts for those nations. So those that emigrated in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s now comprise an aging Diaspora – with the strong desire to return to their native homelands for their “golden years”. They should be welcomed back and incentivized to repatriate, and Caribbean communities should prepare – and profit – from this eventuality. The Go Lean book describes the effort as a figurative “Welcome Mat” that must be administered, with details like: health care, security, disability support, elder-care, entitlements, etc.

There are economic concerns … and benefits from this execution.

But now, according to this story and AUDIO podcast, there may be more pressure for these ones to remain in the work place longer:

Podcast from National Public Radio (NPR) – January 15, 2015
By: Yuki Noguchi

AUDIO Podcast: –

(See transcript in Appendix below)

These same issues, though presented from the perspective of the US, have the same application in the Caribbean. Our population is trending older as more and more young people abandon Caribbean communities for Diaspora life in foreign lands. We must also stave-off brain drain in the Caribbean region.

The Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). This CU is proffered to provide economic, security and economic security solutions for the 30 member-states and their 42 million people. It is our quest to be prepared for this changing landscape. This mandate is pronounced early on in the book’s Declaration of Interdependence with the following statements (Page 11 – 13):

ix.    Whereas the realities of healthcare and an aging population cannot be ignored and cannot be afforded without some advanced mitigation, the Federation must arrange for health plans to consolidate premiums of both healthy and sickly people across the wider base of the entire Caribbean population. The mitigation should extend further to disease management, wellness, mental health, obesity and smoking cessation programs. The Federation must proactively anticipate the demand and supply of organ transplantation as developing countries are often exploited by richer neighbors for illicit organ trade.

xix.    Whereas our legacy in recent times is one of societal abandonment, it is imperative that incentives and encouragement be put in place to first dissuade the human flight, and then entice and welcome the return of our Diaspora back to our shores. This repatriation should be effected with the appropriate guards so as not to imperil the lives and securities of the repatriated citizens or the communities they inhabit. The right of repatriation is to be extended to any natural born citizens despite any previous naturalization to foreign sovereignties.

xxiv.    Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

xxv.    Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary and fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated as proactive and reactive measures. These measures must address threats against the financial integrity of the Federation and of the member-states.

Modern societies are based on the assumption that there will always be more young people in a community than the older population; this is a basic principle in “actuarial science”. There are many social safety nets that depend on this actuarial fact: the Caribbean needs population growth not population contraction. Already the repercussions of so many people abandoning their communities have created devastating consequences. For example, retirement plans-funds are strained in many Caribbean countries. Yes, the Caribbean, as a region, is at the precipice of failed-state status.

The Go Lean book posits that this is a “crisis, but that this crisis is a terrible thing to waste”; (Page 8). As such the roadmap structures the CU to impact the region with the execution of the prime directives defined as these 3 goals:

  • Optimization of economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

According to the foregoing article, America needs to keep their older workers working longer; they cannot afford the brain drain. But this fact is conflicting for Caribbean pursuits. We need our aging Diaspora to come back home, sooner, rather than later…and to bring their wealth, benefits and entitlements with them; Go Lean describes it as their “time, talent and treasuries”. This creates a seller’s market for the foreign workers with demand in the US and also in the homeland. It is hoped that “love for the Caribbean homeland” would be the primary motivator.

It is hoped!

Though the needs of the Caribbean youth are identified as priority for the Go Lean movement (book and blogs), the needs of the elderly population are not ignored. In fact, the Go Lean roadmap details missions like retirement planning, increased retirement age, pension re-financing, heightened public safety and optimized healthcare. The following details from the book Go Lean … Caribbean are the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocates prescribed to manifest the commitment to the Caribbean elderly populations:

Community Ethos – Deferred Gratification Page 21
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Repatriating Caribbean Diaspora Page 47
Strategy – Non-Government Organizations – Senior Aid Groups Page 48
Strategy – Agents of Change – Aging Diaspora Page 57
Tactical – Confederating a Permanent Union Page 63
Tactical – Fostering a Technocracy Page 64
Implementation – Assemble all Member-States Page 96
Implementation – Ways to Pay for Change Page 101
Implementation – Ways to Better Manage Debt – Re-work Pensions Page 114
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Planning – 10 Big Ideas … in the Caribbean Region Page 127
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Reforms for Banking Regulations – Central Bank Page 199
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Wall Street Page 200
Advocacy – Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean   Heritage Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Retirement Page 221
Advocacy – Ways to Help the Middle Class Page 223
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Elder-Care Page 225

The Baby Boom generation has come full circle now as senior citizens. This large population group (born between years 1946 and 1964) is bringing a boon to the industries that cater to their care and preferences. There is an estimated 78.3 million Americans who were born during this demographic period, encompassing a quarter of the US population.

The Caribbean cannot be far behind. Unfortunately though, many of these Caribbean boomers live in foreign countries like the US, Canada, UK, France, the Netherlands and other European countries.  This is a “Big Idea” to incentivize these ones to make a return to their Caribbean ancestral homelands. The Go Lean book describes this big effort as heavy-lifting, a task too big for any one member-state alone. But rather, there is the need for the technocracy of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation. The purpose of this Go Lean/CU roadmap is to deliver, to do the heavy-lifting to make the Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the changes/empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


APPENDIX – Podcast Transcript: Businesses Try to Stave Off Brain Drain as Boomers Retire

In the U.S., roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. And though not everyone who turns 62 or 65 retires right away, enough do that some companies are trying to head off the problem.

CU Blog - Businesses Try To Stave Off Brain Drain As Boomers Retire - Photo 1Dave Tobelmann, who for 33 years developed new products for General Mills, retired five years ago at age 57 — around the same time as a number of other colleagues. “Yeah, I went to a lot of retirement parties,” Tobelmann says.

Losing veteran workers is a challenge, even for big companies like General Mills.

“Let’s say you have 30 people retire in a year and the average years of experience is 30 years. So you just had 1,000 years walk away. That’s hard to lose,” Tobelmann says.

The need is not across the board; not all retirees are in demand. But the older-worker brain drain is a big concern for industries like mining and health care. They are trying to retain older employees because demand is increasing and fewer younger workers are rising through the ranks.

In a survey out this week, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that a third of employers expect staffing problems in coming years.

“When you have large numbers that are leaving and a pipeline that is not entirely as wide as the exit pipeline, you will have temporary gaps,” says Mark Schmit, executive director of the association’s foundation.

Take, for example, the insurance business.

“The average age is in the late 50s in this industry,” says Sharon Emek, who sold an insurance business five years ago after three of the four partners reached retirement age. She then started Work at Home Vintage Employees, a company that contracts insurance-industry retirees.

“It’s a big crisis within the industry where they’re trying to recruit young talent and keep young talent, and the industry is constantly writing about the problem,” Emek says.

Employers are trying to hang onto older talent by offering flexible work hours, more attractive health care benefits or having retirees return to mentor younger workers. And more people are, in fact, working later — either because they want to, or they have to. According to AARP, nearly 19 percent of workers over age 65 work (about 1 in 5), compared with about 11 percent (1 in 10) three decades ago.

Soon after retiring, Tobelmann returned to General Mills. He works through YourEncore, a staffing firm specializing in retiree placement. Procter & Gamble, Boeing and other companies started YourEncore to prepare for baby boomers retiring. Tobelmann says the benefits for the company are obvious.

“I already know how to speak the language, I know how the company operates, I know how the businesses operate, I know how they make money, I know how projects proceed, I know all the processes,” he says.

At Michelin North America, more than 40 percent of the workforce is approaching retirement age. Retirees have, on average, 2 1/2 decades of experience. Dave Stafford, who heads human resources for the company, says last year, it had to plan around losing most of a lab team made up entirely of older workers.

“If we’re doing our job well, we’ll know that there’s risk; we’ll start to staff to compensate for the fact that that risk may come to fruition,” he says.

Michelin encourages retirees to stick around part-time, especially those in technical maintenance, where talent is chronically scarce. But it’s not always easy to accommodate.

“Sometimes they have a very limited number of hours that they want to work, and to try to work around their schedule sometimes can be a bit of a challenge,” says Dale Sweere of Stanley Consultants, an engineering consulting firm based in Muscatine, Iowa.

But Sweere says the company has always offered phased retirement because experienced workers have relationships with clients that are valuable to hang onto. “It’s kind of a running joke around here that we have their retirement party on a Friday and they show up for work again on Monday,” Sweere says.

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