Over the last year, quite a few of my friends and acquaintances have taken their redundancy packages and left the corporate world. They are now looking for new opportunities, but it's not easy as most companies won't hire older workers.
As people become more health-conscious and with better healthcare and medical advances, a higher life expectancy is a new reality globally. While a few seniors will become 'senior-preneurs,' and follow their dreams and calling and start something on their own, most will be still looking to be employed by companies.
Across the border in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir has just set the world record for the oldest prime minister at 92. This is just the beginning, get ready for many more age records to be broken! In the coming decades, the 100-year-old worker will be commonplace.
Companies need to understand what this means for them and come to accept and value ‘silver human capital’. They need to rethink their HR policies and put in place systems and processes to leverage the strengths and potential of an older workforce.
So, what value do older workers bring to the workplace? Here are five things to consider:
1. Older workers are an asset
Their experience and industry knowledge is a great benefit. They can leverage this to solve all kinds of problems. They’ve most likely seen similar situations before and can deal with crisis’ better. Given their years of work, they generally have great contacts and business relationships in place that they can leverage.
They are loyal and not really interested in job hopping. Older workers are also better communicators. Given their vast experience, they are used to dealing with all types of people, which makes them good at customer service.
2. They are great mentors
With their wealth of industry knowledge, great people skills, vast experience and technical skills honed over the years, older workers can be great mentors. They generally have good transferable skills with the patience to teach and the willingness to do so.
It makes them happy and fulfilled knowing that they can impart their knowledge to someone else. Most of the in-house trainers I know are in their late 50’s or 60’s and are passionate and energetic and constantly upgrading their training skills.
3. They are open to learning
Contrary to popular belief, most older workers I come across through my consulting and training work, are very open to learning new things. Their eagerness to learn often surprises me.
The most engaged participants at my workshops are usually older workers who are not easily distracted and who can focus intently on the task at hand. At my workshops and talks, the most interesting and relevant questions generally come from older workers.
4. Older workers have a better work ethic
They have their cultivated their own values and principles and will typically hold the company values in high esteem. They have high integrity and understand that reputation is important. They’ve been trained to be loyal to their employers.
They don't usually feel intimidated by others' success.They don't have an ‘all-about-me’ mindset. They are passionate about being a valuable team member and enjoy being part of a group of diverse people, in an environment where respect is key. Workplaces that hire older people are generally more harmonious, which leads to higher productivity.
5. Mature workers reduce turnover and absence costs
Older workers respect their jobs. They appreciate that the company has given them the opportunity to prove themselves, despite their age. Research consistently indicates that older employees, with their loyalty and commitment, reduce turnover and absenteeism costs in their organisation.
So how can companies effectively integrate older workers into their workforce? Companies will have to allocate resources and time for training and development for them, especially on the tech side of things. They will need to customise training to individual and organisational requirements and effectively communicate the purpose and benefit of this training to the senior worker.
Often, older workers will be managed by younger managers. This can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Companies must provide training, guidance and support for this. They also need to consider flexible working options, as older workers generally seek a better work-life balance with more personal time and time for family.
As Singapore and the world comes to terms with a rapidly ageing population and a higher life expectancy, it is time for companies to accept the new normal and the reality that older workers will be an integral part of the workforce going forward. Ultimately, this means that companies must review the organizational culture and ensure that it is supportive of older workers.
Human resources must commit to finding the ‘best fit’ for the organization, no matter how young or old the candidates are.
As a recruiting manager, it’s about having self-awareness and empathy, because age catches up with everyone and one day we will all be old.
About the author
Ashok Miranda is a Business Transformation Architect and founder of Transform and Transcend. He is the author of the book: Culling Culturitis, How To Rid Your Company of this Toxic Disease and Build a Winning Company Culture.
As a speaker, consultant and trainer, he is passionately committed to architecting a better business world by building purpose-driven companies that nurture happy and engaged employees and positively impact peoples lives.
He connects the dots between company culture, branding, marketing and customer experience and works with business leaders, owners, founders and HR professionals to transform their companies for success in the digital age.
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