There’s a digital revolution taking place across the globe. In virtually every workplace, transformation is happening as a result of automation, artificial intelligence, globalization, and demographic changes. Often, managers and human resources professionals think that younger employees will drive the change.
However, the workforce in many countries is rapidly aging, and mature workers will need to be brought on board if digital transformation initiatives are to be successful. The aim should be to build age-diverse, multidisciplinary teams. In this blog post, we’ll look at why 50-plus employees are so important in these times.
In the last quarter of 2019, 28% of the 33 million people aged 16 and over in the U.K. workforce were aged 50 to 64. This equated to 9.3 million people, and it was the largest number of workers recorded in this age range. During this period, there were 225,000 more 50 to 64-year-old workers than there were one year prior.
The pandemic resulted in a decline in employment across the board, with mature workers being disproportionately affected in some ways. Still, 40% of 50 to 64-year-old women and 66% of men in this age group worked full time. Also, 28% of 50 to 64-year-old women and 9% of men in this age range were involved in part-time work.
Meanwhile, the percentage of people aged 65 and over who were engaged in full-time employment has increased from 1% in 1996 to 4% in 2021.
Globally, the population is projected to reach 9.9 billion in 2050, and approximately 21% or 2.1 billion of these individuals will be over the age of 60. Given the number of older people who are working – and those who would love to re-enter the workforce, businesses can afford to ignore them during the digital revolution.
Employees in almost every field need certain soft skills in order to be effective in their jobs. As the pace of digitization increases, these non-technical skills separate human workers from machines. They relate to how individuals manage their time duties, solve problems, communicate and engage workers and customers. Soft skills can be learned in school, but they become refined with time and experience. That’s why older workers are more likely to be well-equipped with them.
In-demand soft skills include:
- Emotional intelligence
- Critical thinking
- Work ethic
When teams are made up of people of varying ages, there’s a greater diversity of talent and thought, more opportunities for learning and mentoring and heightened creativity, innovation, and productivity.
Mature employees have both on-the-job experiences and life experiences to guide their younger colleagues. They also possess unique knowledge and strengths gained from the period in which they grew up. Given what they know about career advancement, interpersonal skills, and other crucial areas, they’re assets to any business.
One study that focused on the technology sector found that thousands of older IT specialists were unemployed even as the U.K. faced a digital skills gap. BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, stated that reskilling workers over 50 to work in tech could add 119,000 IT specialists to the workforce and help to fill the gap.
In 2020, BCS identified 13,000 unemployed IT specialists aged 50 and over compared to 8,000 in 2019. The organization said the deficit in older people in the industry was an indication of the need to reskill.
The shortage was attributed to:
- The fact that 50-plus employees were less likely to be comfortable with technology than younger generations
- Age discrimination when older people applied for jobs
Organizations in any industry ought to look within when they face skills gaps. There are numerous benefits to be gained from recruiting internally and engaging 50-plus employees. These include faster onboarding, reduced turnover, and higher morale. Older workers also tend to do an excellent job of maintaining the organization’s culture. By reskilling and upskilling older workers so they can fill newly created positions, organizations can create a bridge between the past and the new, highly digital future.
If you’re unsure about you can attract and retain mature workers and leverage their skills during the digital revolution, we’re here to help. Contact our team of age management experts today at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.