A memo to pre-retirement Baby Boomers

Aug. 1, 2011

There's no shortage of people who strongly suggest that an insufficient number of younger folk are interested in the art and science of plant maintenance and engineering, numbers that won't be able to replace the current crop of plant professionals, the ones we affectionately call the Baby Boomers.

There's no shortage of people who strongly suggest that an insufficient number of younger folk are interested in the art and science of plant maintenance and engineering, numbers that won't be able to replace the current crop of plant professionals, the ones we affectionately call the Baby Boomers.

When you think about it, the whole situation is rather interactive. Industrial plants have a tendency to embrace automation, digital networks, and a range of other technologies so as to eliminate the need for so many warm bodies on the plant floor. The numbers from the labor cost center decrease, plant profitability rises. Those out-of-work warm bodies buy less stuff. Plants don’t sell as much, you get the drift. But that’s not my point.

While this pas de deux takes place, those venerable Baby Boomers continue their inexorable march in the general direction of retired bliss. A little fishing, traveling, putzing around the garden, getting involved in charity work, a bit of freelancing, reading, art, more cultural events. A comprehensive listing all things one could possibly do with 40-plus hours each week, 2,000 hours each year, would require a lot of paper.

And when that big countdown timer runs out and our venerable Baby Boomers retire en masse, I doubt that many of them will really give two hoots about their former employers, other than hoping that any defined-benefit pensions they might have earned don’t vanish without a trace like housing values did recently.

Still, it’s a lot of post-retirement hours that will need to be filled. In so many cases, a retiree will need to take another person into consideration before running off to Bonaire to dive the world’s finest coral reefs. That’s my point.

Memo to pre-retirement Baby Boomers: It’s a joint venture. Take a moment to read “Negotiating retirement with your spouse,” a Web posting by Linda Stern.

I think it would be better if your post-work life is more pleasant than punching that clock each day.

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