The demographics of the workforce are changing as the population ages. According to one Pew Research Center article, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that by 2022, 31.9% of those ages 65 to 74 will still be working. Not only are improvements in healthcare and preventive medicine increasing the population of citizens over age 55, but more than 40% of these individuals continue to work—a larger percentage than ever before.
The shifting demographics present employers with a number of concerns, and it is beneficial to identify the value of retaining older workers and learn how to accommodate them.
Retaining Older Workers
As large portions of the workforce approach retirement age and leave, companies may undergo a “brain drain”—a loss of expertise. Some of the most talented and experienced members of a team, such as the senior-level managers, fill roles that are hard to replace.
Moreover, members of younger generations tend to have much higher turnover rates than workers ages 46 to 64. Retaining older members is important for passing on critical information about the methods of a company and giving ample time for long-term replacements to be mentored.
While employees will continue working longer, you can’t count on them being at the office forever. Their retirement may be delayed, but once they are gone, a lot of knowledge will leave with them. Consider shifting older workers into mentor or even training roles.
Encourage interaction between younger and older workers. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone, as younger employees are often looking for mentoring and training.
Engaging Older Workers
The workforce population above age 55 is also more likely to qualify for a disability or be at higher risk for developing one. Analyzing the safety of job tasks, implementing ergonomic designs to reduce risk of injury, and utilizing technology that may reduce labor-intensive aspects of a job are all ways in which a job can become more accessible to seniors.
Senior employees are more likely to remain at a job that offers advanced training, appreciates their contributions, prohibits discrimination, and offers strong health benefits. Improving the flexibility of a job, whether by allowing reduced hours, a flexible schedule, phased retirement, or remote access, can also help retain experienced older employees.
The population of workers aged 55 and above is not only at an all-time high, but many of these individuals offer valuable contributions to the workplace. By recognizing the value of retaining older workers and accommodating their needs, employers can benefit from an engaged and productive aging workforce.
For more resources on how to respond to shifting workforce demographics, contact us today.