Workers continue to delay retirement, and organizations have a big opportunity to benefit from a multigenerational workforce.
Generational differences in the workplace are providing new opportunities to understand and appreciate the benefits of having more experienced workers. According to the National Council on Aging, by 2019, workers over age 55 will represent more than 25 percent of the U.S. workforce.
Employees choosing to remain in the workforce longer represent a big benefit for employers who are finding the hiring environment steadily competitive and many skills and competencies in short supply.
Big Benefits From Experienced Workers
Organizations are realizing the value in recruiting and retaining workers with proven track records. Experienced workers can bring a wide range of benefits to the workforce, despite persistent myths about "older" workers. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) debunked five of these myths or stereotypes.
-Myth 1: Experienced workers are more expensive. It used to seem logical that the longer an employee worked for an organization, the more costly they became. That's no longer the case as more organizations have moved to performance and market-based pay models rather than the tenure-based models.
-Myth 2: "Older" workers fear technology. With the right resources and training, anyone can learn, adapt, and embrace technology, reports SHRM. Regardless of age, we all learn new programs and applications all the time.
-Myth 3: Over time, people stop caring about their work. Employers and their HR advisers will likely be glad to hear that more experienced workers are engaged workers. SHRM reports that 65 percent of employees over age 55 are engaged at work.
-Myth 4: "Older" workers have more health problems. According to SHRM, younger workers actually take more sick days.
-Myth 5: "Older" workers resist change. SHRM reports that more startups are founded by older people than younger people.
What Can Different Generations Learn From One Another?
Being willing to learn from each other is important regardless of age, says Joel Keylor, CEO of Tresle Inc., a platform that connects private organizations with buyers. Keylor says he works with the entire generational spectrum.
"A lot of the time, being in an industry for 30-plus years generally means that person has seen a lot of different situations and can probably be very valuable," he says. "On the other hand, baby boomers should get up-to-date with technology, language and the culture of business."
Baby boomers can also help mentor their younger colleagues, providing them with knowledge on how to adapt to the business environment, which often isn't taught in traditional school settings. HR leaders can help encourage interactions between employees of various ages in productive ways and leverage the positive aspects of generational differences in the workplace.
How to Use a Diverse Workforce to Your Advantage
SHRM shares some promising practices from AARP for engaging a more experience workforce:
- Provide apprenticeships for workers of any age
- Consider offering a program to help workers re-enter the workforce
- Offer opportunities for mentorship between generations
- Start conversations to aid in greater understanding of generational differences in the workplace
- Consider establishing employee resource groups to increase engagement and understanding
- Be proactive in recruiting talent from across all ages
Diversity benefits organizations whether that diversity is represented through age, sex, race, nationality or another factor. Take steps to ensure you're leveraging the many benefits that a generationally diverse workforce has to offer.
Stay up-to-date on the latest workforce trends and insights for HR leaders: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.