Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Keep Boomers on the Job

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Yep, that’s us. At least those of us who are still Boy Scouts. But is this any reason to keep us on the job?

It doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of merit badges, but there are some other more compelling reasons for employers to hang on to their baby boomers as long as they can.

Let’s take the most obvious reasons first. Boomers have experience. We’ve been working at some of these jobs for 30 to 40 years. Not trying to be mean here, but the 21 year-old new hire does not have a clue about how to do the job a boomer can do.

Next, we’ve got leadership skills. We’ve worked our way up the ladder because we know how to direct and motivate people. We may not have been natural leaders but we learned how to grow into that role and make it our own.

Perspective? Check. We’ve seen a lot of change, ideas that came and went. It’s not that we’re going to stand in your way, but we can tell you what happened when we tried a new idea and it didn’t work. We’re open to new possibilities without going all in for the first idea that someone has proposed.

How about credibility? A boomer with 30 years or more of experience can talk to clients or customers with the kind of gravitas that younger employees only wish they had. A little gray hair can command respect as well as give off confidence.

Then there’s the fact that boomers have some serious interpersonal skills. We’re talking person to person, not text to text or email to email. Getting face to face to resolve a conflict, negotiate an agreement or persuade someone to try something new….boomers have had lots of time to perfect those skills in real time with real people.

Lastly, but almost more important than any other quality, boomers are adaptable. We may not know what social media platform is going red hot at the moment --- Snapchat, Vine, Instagram, whatever --- we have managed to learn about loads of apps and technologies just to keep up. So while you may not see us as early adopters we are definitely constant adapters.

All that and we can light a fire with 2 pieces of wood.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Get On the Bus Gus

Uber may be giving the taxi biz a run for its money, but seriously, how often can you call Uber when you need a ride? The cost of that door-to-door service can add up fast.

Maybe that’s why public transit companies are betting that aging boomers are going to be their next best friends. Take LA for example (I know, the cute answer to that one is, “no, you take LA”). They expect to see a huge increase in ridership by boomers. Right now, only 6 percent of its riders are over 65, even though seniors make up 12 percent of the county’s population.

Will it take longer to get where you want to go? Yes. Is that still a viable option when you no longer can or want to drive your own car? Yes.

And they really are aiming to please. They have more elevators in their stations, more priority seating on the buses, and offer training to seniors on how to use the system. There’s even a book with detailed directions for how to go on 24 sightseeing adventures using only public transit.

So if you’re still driving now and will be for the foreseeable future, do you really think that when the time comes, you’ll take the bus? I have to think about that. But when I think about it long enough, my answer is yes. Paying a car service every time is going to rack up quite a bill and if the bus is filled with other aging boomers who can no longer drive, how bad can it be? Okay, it won’t be like Ken Kesey’s Magic Bus (or if we are all vaping the ganja, maybe it will), but if you can get to the grocery, the doctor or the movie theater for a low relative cost, that may not be so bad. Listening to the guy who talks to himself for the entire ride might be enlightening, if not entertaining.

You’ve got plenty of time to think this through, but when the time does come, you might as well hop on the bus Gus.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.