While employers have heard a lot recently about the importance of having Millennials in today’s workplace, they are not the only group that should be considered. Having older workers in the workforce is incredibly important, especially in specific industries and organizations that can benefit from their industry knowledge and vast experience.
Understanding how these workers can benefit an organization is important for businesses to be able to leverage these employee relationships for the advancement of their organizations.
Benefits of Older Workers
Hiring and retaining older workers provides many benefits to employers. Some of the most notable include:
These employees have often worked in their chosen field for a long time, and they can offer a great amount of knowledge in their specific industry. With 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day, a tremendous amount of industry knowledge is threatened to be lost. Older employees can transfer this knowledge to the next generation, who can then carry it on for prosperity. Older and younger workers can also work together so that the younger worker learns about the processes and methods that the older worker has developed over time.
Older workers often offer unparalleled expertise, and are subject matter experts who can offer valuable insight into various industries. While they may have difficulty meeting some of the physical demands of their jobs, they may be able to provide greater assistance in another department. For example, they may be transferred to the education department where they train new hires or other workers. Businesses should take care to recognize the individual contributions of the older generation and find ways to best leverage them.
Training and Mentoring Opportunities
In many cases, these employees have become leaders in their fields, acting as supervisors and managers. This makes them particularly valuable in training other employees on how to do their jobs more efficiently. Also, their ability to serve as mentors to those just starting out in the field allows them to pass on valuable insight and serve as a liaison between other industry leaders or business partners who work with newer employees.
Filling in the Gaps of Skill Shortages
In November 2018, Department of Labor research revealed that employers were unable to find enough talent to fill 7 million open jobs. Older workers often have the skillset needed to take on these jobs as many return to full-time or part-time work after discovering they are not fulfilled during retirement. This creates the ideal scenario for businesses that have realized recent shortages and lack of manpower.
Attracting Older Workers to Open Employment Opportunities
When considering the benefits of older employees in the workforce, it is important to consider the special nuances of how to keep them engaged and motivated in your organization.
Some programs that may appeal to older workers include:
- Flexible jobs: Some mature workers may prefer traditional jobs while others may want flex-time to work around travel plans or family obligations. Other flexible arrangements include telecommuting or job sharing. Compressed workweeks are helpful for retired workers who cannot earn over a certain amount of money due to other benefits they are receiving. Other workers may prefer different shifts than they worked during their critical career years.
- Short-term projects: Some employees may prefer to work on short-term projects. Temporary jobs may be put in place for professionals such as speech therapists, substance abuse center workers and others.
- Benefits: Often, a good healthcare program is a strong incentive for older workers. Other benefits like 401(k) contributions, and personal time off may appeal to them as well.
- Employee recognition: Every employee wants to feel valued at work. Baby Boomers often prefer more traditional forms of recognition, such as physical rewards or a work anniversary party. In contrast, Millennials prefer more autonomous options, such as selecting an award themselves that resonates with them.
These are just a few ways that employers can offer innovative packages that appeal to older workers.