Even before the long-simmering financial crisis exploded two weeks ago, most research on the subject showed that baby boomers (all 78 million of 'em) largely were delaying retirement. They were doing so for multiple reasons: feeling they still had something to contribute to the workforce, wanting to stay active and of course, financial necessity.

As boomers have seen pensions and retiree health benefits dry up and their 401(k) savings take a beating in the stock market, even more employees in this demographic may put off retiring. In addition to creating a bottleneck in corporate advancement for hungry Gen X and Gen Y workers who are eager to move ahead in their organizations, the retirement delay seems to be lulling employers into a sense of security regarding succession planning.

New survey numbers from Novations Group reveal 36% of HR and training execs don´t expect an unusually large talent loss loss due to boomer retirements. Further, only about one-quarter (26%) are actively taking steps to plan for the talent loss, even though 18% say they expect the loss of talent and institutional knowledge to be "serious." One in five are clueless about how boomer retirements will affect their companies at all.

Yes, employers have bought themselves ($700 billion worth?) time in dealing with boomer retirement as the economy continues to slow and older workers need to maintain employment to keep health coverage and recoup lost 401(k) assets. However, succession planning is not an issue HR/benefit pros can ignore for long.

Because worst case scenario, when the economy recovers, boomers may begin to head for the exits, taking their knowledge with them. And those eager Gen Yers -- surely not known for exercising patience -- may be long gone.

As such, employers need to get busy on cementing their succession plans. For tips, read coverage in EBN, as well as its sister publication SMB Human Resources, which targets issues specific to small and mid-sized businesses.

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