Older Workers and New Assumptions
By Cathy Fyock Principal, Cathy Fyock | March 01, 2015
The workforce is aging, and many organizations remain unprepared for the changes necessitated by increasing numbers of retirements. What are the old assumptions about retirement, about productivity of older adults, and about what employers can and should do to effectively manage through these changes?
This article outlines how the workplace will likely change, and suggest new assumptions and new strategies for maximizing the benefits of an aging workforce. Consider the following scenarios and the impact these might have on your organization:
- An older employee is not performing up to standard. He hasn't been coached because everyone thought he would retire soon.
- A young manager is resisting hiring older workers for IT roles, and refers to them as "old geezers." Many of the IT positions have been unfilled for six months or more.
- Boomer caregivers experience the challenge that is typical of this "sandwich generation"-having to provide care for children, parents, and often grandchildren and grandparents.
- An organization is losing many qualified, valued employees by offering outdated early retirement packages.
Many of these problematic human resources issues are the result of changing workforce demographic needs that aren't being met by outmoded, old-fashioned management assumptions. In order for HR professionals to maximize an age-diverse work force, they will need to change their thinking about policies and programs in order to capitalize on this important labor market segment.
According to research, HR professionals have not taken to heart the impact of the aging work force and fail to understand the impact the impending retirements that are likely to take place over the next few years.
Old Assumptions and New Responses
Older workers today just aren't the same as older workers of the past. In fact, when Social Security was first established, it was at a time when few workers lived long enough to draw a benefit because of life expectancy. Now, someone in their 60s, 70s, or even their 80s or 90s may have many productive years to work. Given the fact that aging isn't what it used to be, what do human resources professionals need to do to rethink assumptions about older workers?