Brett Favre and “un-retirement”: Model for baby-boomers and boon for employers

brett favre vikings jersey

AP Photo/Star Tribune, Jerry Holt

HR Roundtable panelist Michael Haberman suggests that the Brett Favre NFL “un-retirement” saga may become more popular in the traditional workplace as baby boomers reach retirement age:

So Brett Favre is un-retiring! What a surprise, NOT. Everyone who reads a sport page knows the story. Retired from the Packers due to “mental fatigue.” Unretired from the Packers to join the Jets, because “I have something to offer.” Retired from the Jets because he just didn’t have it anymore. Even as recently as the end of July he was staying retired, but just this week he is un-retiring to join the Vikings because “I felt I could offer experience and leadership, I didn’t want to look back and didn’t want to say what if.” So football fans will watch and see what he has to offer.

Even though he is not a baby-boomer (those born between 1945 and 1965), Favre, who was an early Gen X, still provides an example for many baby-boomer retirees. There are many boomers who have retired, but don’t feel they have given it all. They were mentally tired. Many boomers have worked from early teen age years without a break. But they still feel they have something to offer and the first retirement has shaken off the fatigue. They realize that work energizes them. So, many are coming out of retirement to come back into the workforce.

The reasons for un-retiring will vary. For some it is because the economic downturn has destroyed their retirement nest eggs and they have to work to bring in some money to pay the bills. Others miss the challenge of day-to-day assignments. Others miss the social interaction. Whatever the reason, they provide a ready-made workforce for companies that are unable to find the managerial and leadership skills they are missing. It is a ready-made workforce that brings a work ethic that many bemoan and many younger workers don’t posses. And it is a workforce that may bring a flexibility to work arrangements that may not be currently available. Many un-retiring boomers are willing to work less than fulltime and to job share. And don’t think they don’t have computer skills. That age group may be the fast growing group adopting the use of social media.

So if you are an employer looking to add experienced help look at an un-retiring boomer. But be prepared to deal with some pushback from your younger workforce. As someone commented to me on Twitter the other day “Don’t old people realize they need to get out of the way and relinquish control?”

If you are retired, would you do a “Brett Favre” and “un-retire” if the situation was right? If you are not ready to retire yet, do you think you will stay out of the workforce once you finally retire or do you think you will be tempted to get back to working at some point?

4 comments Add your comment

Jim Reeves

December 28th, 2009
7:26 am

It amazes me every day when I see companies that do not realize the contribution that the over 45 crowd makes to an organization.

Age is only relevant in the number of years you have been on the planet, it has nothing to do with your qualifications or abilities. Look at most of our great scientist, artist and architects. Their best work is achieved in their later years.

Most of us baby boomers are former military, and were managed in our early carreers by former World War 2 combat Officers where we acquired skills that todays managers can not even come close to. Some will say we are outdated, dinosaurs, out-of-touch. I can assure you that is very far from the truth.

Ask how many people want to see a gray haired pilot flying their 767. Sulley wasn’t some inexperienced entry level kid behind the stick when he landed on the Hudson River. How many 30 year old surgeons do you want putting you under the knife? How many great Professors or Teachers do you know of that peaked at 25?

The contributions from senior level staff could be significant if only the culture in the United States would not perpetuate the myth that you are washed up over 50. Corporate America has alienated a segment of society that could be one of its greatest assets, and in the process it has caused more grief than happiness. In doing so they have created and alienated a generation that no longer trusts, believes, or has confidence in American corporations. And that is not only in the Boomer generation, it is in the ones right behind them.

nfl thoughts

December 24th, 2009
11:11 pm

Hey what was he doing, that’s crazy

Ole Guy

December 5th, 2009
3:50 pm

First of all, let’s get one thing straight! The act of, the very term RETIREMENT, as applied to a professional sports luminary, has absolutely no relationship to retirement in the traditional sense. Taking a few years out before changing jerseys, or becoming a silent partner in some restaurant IS NOT RETIREMENT!

Secondly, continuing work beyond a particular age is not necessarily un-retirement. I retired (on paper) from one segment of my life and simply transitioned into a parallel segment. When I think of people my current age, back when I was a few years out of Animal House College, it becomes all-too-apparent that the very idea of retirement has taken on a completely new meaning. Some of the people with whom I work, themselves of recent collegiate vintage, as well-meaning and eager as they are still require a little “organizational straightening out”. Some day, when my cohorts of the 60s finally decide to tell the world to go to hell, those younger guys/gals will, hopefully, be able to, rhetoricaly speaking, “keep the aircraft on center”.


August 21st, 2009
9:02 am

Thanks for the vote, Mr. Haberman. There are many of us out here ready, willing, and able to apply our considerable experience, education, and skills to a company willing to hire our over-55 selves. The truth is our work ethic and energy (thanks to the American farmer and modern medicine in this great country), we have more to offer businesses than newer graduates and the education we received gave us a far more capitalistic and practical mindset than our younger counterparts. If you want efficiency and results, hire an older worker.