We have argued many times on this blog that the Baby Boomers are going to redefine retirement (for example, here, here and here). In fact, we even thought we were very clever using the phrase “retyrement” to describe what we think will actually happen. We’ve had a presentation called “Prime Time” about it. And one of our colleagues started her own consultancy called the refirement network.

We’ve been saying this for at least the last 6 years, so it’s got very little to do with financial downturn of the last two years. Although the recession allowed us to add one more reason why Boomers were not going to retire in the way we think of retirement now. But maybe the recession will cause some Boomers a big headache in this area.

Because many companies will need to find ways to strip out costs over the next few years as the recovery slowly begins, they will think of removing the high remuneration costs for senior staff. The weak economy could very well result in job losses that will force more people to retire early. This would severely scupper Boomers plans to continue working longer.

However, we would argue strongly that this will simply see Boomers become entrepreneurs. We cannot imagine that they will retire gracefully to the “do nothing” state often associated with retirement. Some will move into the voluntary sector. There is therefore a huge opportunity for charities, non-profits, and faith-based organisations to target recruitment campaigns at this generation. I’d say this could work for any organisation that could use more volunteers, from local schools to the World Cup Football competition.

But, many of the Boomers are likely to try and start up their own companies. The opportunities here are boundless. This is a generation that loves consultants – and they’ll be very happy to use some of the early retirement payout to buy consulting services. They’d pay for anything from IT support to virtual secretarial services, and from business mentoring to outsourcing of warehousing and deliveries. Many of them are used to having teams of people do their bidding, and they’d probably pay to have this setup again in their startup businesses.

Given just a few good experiences, they may be able to get their heads around virtual support (such as eLance), but in general, they are a “hands on” and “face to face” generation.

There are huge challenges ahead for the Boomers. This next decade is likely to be a very frustrating one for them. But there are amazing opportunities as well.

What are your thoughts?

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