“You’re never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S. Lewis
You might be surprised to learn that older workers—those who are at or approaching the traditional retirement age of 65—are the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce. And with the number of people age 65 and older projected to increase by an astonishing 66% between now and 2035, the trend will continue. The explosive growth of this segment of the population is being fueled by the sheer size of the Baby Boomer demographic coupled with today’s longer, healthier life spans.
If you’re looking to expand your workforce, older workers have a lot to offer. These veterans bring with them a lifetime of skills and they can be highly motivated, productive members of the workplace, according to recent studies conducted by professors at the Wharton School of Business. Their research identified a number of areas in which older workers excel and bring value to the workplace, including:
- Maturity that comes from years of life and work experience and makes for workers who get less flustered when problems arise.
- Reliability is a given for older workers. Despite their advanced age, research shows they are less absent and less tardy than their younger counterparts.
- A sense of accomplishment has become increasingly hard to find among younger employees. Older employees more willingly stay later to get the job done because of their sense of pride in the final product.
- Honesty is common among older workers. The values of this demographic group tend to include personal integrity and a dedication to the truth.
- Communication skills evolve through years of experience. Older workers are familiar with workplace politics and know how to diplomatically convey their ideas.
If you have an older workforce in place, how you can most effectively utilize their talents?
- Build a “generational bridge”. By improving collaboration and communication, you can help clear up misconceptions and lessen conflicts between workers of different generations. You can do this by creating opportunities for employees of different ages to work together on certain projects, and training managers to adjust their leadership styles for various target audiences.
- Recognize the experience of older workers. Everyone wants their expertise to be appreciated and it’s even more important for your older employees. Disregarding their lifetime of experience can be demeaning.
- Look ahead and plan for the future. Identify the skills that will be most needed in your organization and create new roles and career paths for mature workers to fill them.
- Review your recruitment practices. Having policies in place that encourage diversity and inclusion will help attract mature workers. Ensure that your firm’s jobs, promotions, and training opportunities are available and accessible to everyone, including seniors.
Each generation brings its unique assets to the workplace. When it comes to older workers, their experience and emotional intelligence adds a layer of wisdom that can only be acquired with time.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit www.thehrteam.com.