From the CEO: Quietly returning

AME | October 11, 2022

We are all familiar with the phrase “what goes up must come down.” Well, an interesting phenomenon is developing within the U.S. workforce, suggesting that those who exit might soon return…only this time on their terms.

As workers experiment with “quietly quitting” in the post-pandemic labor force, many who chose to retire are now coming back to work, a fashion aptly dubbed “quietly returning.” According to survey data from Joblist, 27 percent of participants sought “unretirement” because of financial stress, while 21 percent reported inflation as the key reason. The more interesting finding is that 60 percent of those reentering the workforce also did so because they were “looking for something to do.”

Work can fill our lives with a sense of purpose. We form lasting and collaborative relationships, especially in those organizations with strong people-centric cultures. When we retire, some feel a loss of value and purpose. Many retirees are now asking, why not go back to work on their terms? There’s increased flexibility, with more autonomy over when they work and how much work they wish to incorporate back into their lives. They are not looking for promotions, simply for satisfying jobs valuing their skills and expertise.

Beyond the personal benefits, this trend of “quietly returning” made me think more about the future of leadership across our industry. These retirees are leading us towards a potentially new and beneficial labor force. Are we, as leaders, striving to cultivate workplaces they want to return to? What are we doing to instill integrity and trust across the workforce to value all generations? How are continuing to inspire that passion for excellence in all that we do?

I am excited to discuss all these opportunities in depth at AME Dallas 2022 in just a few short weeks! We have many keynotes, sessions and workshops lined up to facilitate dialogue around the workforce.

In “Modern Leadership: Getting everyone working horizontally and thinking systemically,” O.C. Tanner will discuss how businesses can thrive in an age of disruption by breaking down traditional modes of leadership. TrailPaths will explore the importance of the “human spectrum” in supply chain leadership and how we can create meaningful work environments in “Lessons in leadership: the human spectrum.” In “Developing continuous improvement leaders across the value stream,” follow Cook Medical's journey to develop continuous improvement (CI) leaders, break down silos and establish a CI culture across the organization. Tasty Catering will share how it emerged from the pandemic stronger than before by maximizing collaboration and problem-solving among staff in “Value-based leadership and employee engagement.”

I’m particularly excited to listen in on “Learning that works: Recruiting and retaining the new collar workforce.” In this panel discussion, you will hear from my friends Glenn Marshall (AME volunteer management team), Dr. Latitia McCane (The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding director of education), Dr. Casey Roberts (New Horizons Regional Education Center executive director), Gay Berryman (Cisco Networking Academy’s Instructor Training/Support Centers director) and Jake Lopez (SkillsUSA-TX High School executive director).

You can view the full program of keynotes, practitioner sessions, tours and workshops on our conference website. It is also not too late to register! Don't miss our first in-person AME conference in two years and the opportunity to hear from an incredible pool of industry pioneers and thought leaders.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to share that this week has changed the lives of many in our membership. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by Hurricane Ian, especially those in our immediate and extended AME community. I'm uplifted by the support you continue to show each other in times of hardship. It is at times like this that the AME family comes together like no other. This latest crisis is no exception. As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.