It is projected that by 2025 a quarter of the United States workforce will be over the age of 55. Meanwhile, the percentage of employed people aged 55 or older in European Union rose from 11.9% to 20.2% – between 2004 and 2019. In the US, job vacancies have been outnumbering job applications since 2018 as baby boomers retire faster than younger people can enter the workforce. The workforce is aging and in a culture that highly values youth, many organizations are struggling to adapt.
The preference for younger workers is partly cost-related: younger employees are generally less costly than mature talent. However, younger workers are also assumed to be simply better or even smarter. Mature workers in contrast are seen as less capable, less adaptable and less willing to try new things. However, many mature workers want to continue working either because they need money or they are simply passionate about what they do.
In any case, these workers are often at the stage of their lives where they are seeking a deeper level of meaning from their lives. If they don’t get this from their jobs, they can feel disengaged and disconnected. This is a phenomenon known as “the drift”. Ultimately, “the drift” can force 50-plus employees out of their jobs even when they still have lots to offer. The reality is that organizations and workers of all ages can benefit from what mature talent brings to the table. Let’s look at what new hires can learn from their more experienced colleagues.
How to Do Their Jobs More Efficiently and Effectively
Mature workers typically have decades of experience in their fields. They may even have worked for the same company for their entire career. This means that not only do they know a lot about the various job roles and functions but they have a deep understanding of organizational culture and politics.
As a result of being in the workforce longer, they have knowledge that new hires don’t.Notably, one study conducted for the Centre for European Economic Research found that younger workers aren’t always the most productive. This is especially the case in sectors such as manufacturing where knowledge is acquired over time. Mature workers can pass on their knowledge through formal and informal mentorship, helping younger, inexperienced workers to navigate the workplace more effectively. At the same time, their know-how benefits the entire organization.
How to Exercise More Control Over Their Jobs
Employees in their thirties often find it very difficult to balance the demands of the job with family life and building a life outside of work. Meeting the needs of clients, supervisors, spouses, and children can seem like too much especially when work duties and hours seem to be out of their control. Younger workers often report feeling exhausted. In contrast, 50-plus employees are more likely to say they have control over their work. They know how to delegate tasks, negotiate with the higher-ups and generally bring their jobs more in line with their needs and desires. In organizations that retain and hire mature talent, younger staff members can learn to achieve a better work-life balance.
How to Manage Their Money and Plan for the Long Term
Young workers admittedly often aren’t very financially literate. However, some research shows that individuals’ financial knowledge increases up to the age of 65 before it starts to decline. This means that workers over 50 have knowledge they can share with their younger colleagues about managing money and planning for the future. Even mature workers who realize they haven’t saved enough for retirement can show younger workers the importance of controlling their spending. Since people are living and working longer, new hires need to know how to plan for their future.
How to Strengthen Their In-Person Communication Skills
Mature workers grew up interacting with people face-to-face. However, younger hires are used to using technology to communicate and they have less experience with in-person communication. Naturally, this can create barriers in the workplace. However, the differences in communication styles can be overcome. Many people see this from the perspective of teaching baby boomers to use Zoom or Google Meets. However, mature workers tend to have superior communication skills and even in a changing business environment, face-to-face interaction remains key. Retaining mature talent can provide an opportunity for younger workers to practice their interpersonal skills.
How WiseForce Advisors Can Help Your Organization
As noted in an article by Eurofound, motivation is key to retaining employees and keeping them engaged. WiseForce Advisors offers a range of services that can help your business combat “the drift”. We provide Corporate Awareness Sessions that assist organizational leaders in identifying and addressing ageism and other age-related issues in the workplace. We’ll help you to see the benefits of having workers of various ages including mature talent.
WiseForce also offers Age-Management Workshops for Managers. In these sessions, we challenge managers on their attitudes towards 50-plus employees and guide them towards a cultural change that embraces all workers. The aim is to boost innovation and increase productivity by fostering collaboration across age groups.We’ve also developed an Age Management Readiness Questionnaire to help you analyze your age management strategies. You’ll receive data that you can use to improve your current situation. If you want to ensure that you create a work environment in which both mature talent and new hires can thrive, reach out to our team and schedule a consultation.