We are in an ageing population. This issue was hot a few years ago but appeared to wane during the recession. Now as the economy recovers, employers are again turning to face this looming problem.
A recent article noted that “There’s only one worker aged 25 to 34 years old for every three workers 55 or older. Two decades ago, that ratio was reversed”.
If you’re thinking that math doesn’t quite add up.. you’re not the only one. As the war for talent heats up and talent pools feel a little shallow, employers need to start planning on how they can entice older workers to stay in the workforce.
But how do you woo a 55+ year old worker into staying in your workplace?
Steer Clear of Stereotypes
The first step is simple but a trap that many employers fall under – believing the stereotype that older workers are just punching the clock until retirement. Aside from it not being true, regardless of age, employers should consider the individual motivations of all employees instead of relying on outdated age-based assumptions.
Our in-house Talent Assessment Consultant and Occupational Psychologist, Stephen Race, warns against the dangers of making such broad generalizations. “I worked with one organization who had unknowingly created a very expensive turnover problem by having the faulty assumption that boomers want routine, repetitive, non-challenging, clock-punching work. By the time we uncovered the root of the problem they had lost many of their best boomer-aged workers.”
Offer Learning and Development
One of the most common misconceptions about older workers is that they are not interested in learning and development. They may not be as interested in promotions but they do want to be challenged, learn and grow just as much or more than younger workers. Learning and development can come from formal training, on-the-job learning, mentoring, or reverse mentoring (being mentored by a younger worker). For a job opportunity to be appealing to a boomer it should emphasize those aspects.
Flatter Their Skills Sets
Boomers or older workers are open to learning and growth but at the same time they want to be able to put their skills and experience to use. This does not have to mean that they want to be in jobs directly related to what they have done previously but it does mean that they look for jobs where their skill set is transferrable. For example, a boomer with a background in transportation and logistics may be interested in working for a food producer because of the distribution component of the business. When creating a job description, don’t just focus on the “must-have” requirements. Be sure to include many “assets” or “nice-to-haves” to lure in boomers that may not otherwise see the connection between their skill set and the opportunity.
As employees get older, flexible working arrangements become more important and help ease the transition into retirement. Offering flexible hours, extended vacation leave and work-from-home options are good retention strategies for employers looking to extend the work-life of boomers who would otherwise retire. Similarly a comprehensive benefits plan is a valuable component for completing the package.
If your business hasn’t started planning for its older workers, now’s the time to get into action. Our talent assessment team at TalentClick have a range of tools that can help businesses with learning and development, succession planning, leadership development, onboarding, turnover and retention.