Brain power

Is your organization ‘age ready’?

Originally posted on The Horizons Tracker.

As societies age, it’s vital that employers tap into the wisdom and experience of the older workforce, with a recent paper from Mercer providing a salient reminder of the importance of being ‘age ready’.

“With labor force size, participation rate and productivity so closely tied to business and economic growth, the experienced workforce is a source of talent and competitive advantage that employers need to embrace now,” the authors say. “To be ‘age-ready’, however, requires a thoughtful and careful analysis of this workforce segment as well as a change in mindset as to how experienced workers truly add value to organizations.”

The report highlights the numerous ways experienced workers bring tremendous value to the workplace, with these virtues often sitting beyond traditional performance management metrics. These benefits include:

  • Being lower cost due to the lower likelihood of them leaving the business
  • Their influence in helping to retain, develop and engage more junior employees
  • Their impact on group productivity via their increased knowledge sharing
  • Their ability to foster collaboration, cohesion and resiliency within the group
  • Their support for innovation and strengthening customer connections.

A tough sell

Despite these advantages however, older workers remain ostracized in many organizations, with Mercer citing the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report, which detailed how just 4% of organizations have plans to invest in older workers as part of their talent and workforce strategies.

With demographic trends changing across the world however, this is a situation that simply cannot be sustained if we’re not to throw a generation onto the scrap heap unnecessarily.

“For employers, managing a rapidly growing older workforce is a challenge without precedent,” Mercer say. “In the US rates of working among older individuals have been rising and will continue to rise, with the highest growth rates among those aged 70-74 and 75-79. Given this reality, organizations that are more ‘age-ready’ than their competitors will likely have a significant strategic advantage.”

Becoming age ready

To help organizations become ‘age ready’, the report concludes with 10 steps they can take to better capitalize on their experienced workforce. It’s not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to get things started.

  1. Collect and analyze your age-profile data to explore demographic and skills pinch points.
  2. Develop and implement people and careers strategies that embrace the experienced workforce.
  3. Understand what impact your organization’s retirement plan design has on the trajectory of retirement readiness and labor flow.
  4. Initiate conversations with experienced employees about how they might work differently.
  5. Examine and tackle how ageism might manifest in your organization – analyzing pay, bonuses, performance, promotion and recruitment statistics through a lens focused on aging.
  6. Develop a lifelong learning attitude that positions people to embrace jobs of the future.
  7. Measure productivity levels across different age and position cohorts in your organization.
  8. Implement an effective flexible-working strategy.
  9. Develop and implement a program offering support for those who have caregiver responsibilities.
  10. Create and sustain an inclusive culture that supports and enables your experienced-worker strategy.

Article source: Is Your Organization ‘Age Ready’?

Header image source: Scott Lewis on Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

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Adi Gaskell

I'm an old school liberal with a love of self organizing systems. I hold a masters degree in IT, specializing in artificial intelligence and enjoy exploring the edge of organizational behavior. I specialize in finding the many great things that are happening in the world, and helping organizations apply these changes to their own environments. I also blog for some of the biggest sites in the industry, including Forbes, Social Business News, Social Media Today and, whilst also covering the latest trends in the social business world on my own website. I have also delivered talks on the subject for the likes of the NUJ, the Guardian, Stevenage Bioscience and CMI, whilst also appearing on shows such as BBC Radio 5 Live and Calgary Today.

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