Over the last 5 years, workers over the age of 40 have begun to make up the majority of the US workforce. On top of that, population growth among those ages 65 and older is outpacing the growth of those ages 25 to 64! This new reality presents some interesting issues for employers. By understanding this new landscape and how to handle it, companies can ensure that they have the right practices in place to manage an aging workforce.
A common challenge for companies across numerous industries is employees build up considerable knowledge about products, services or processes and then take that information with them when they leave. With regard to an aging workforce, there are a few simple strategies for dealing with this issue. The first is for companies to do a better job of getting that information out of employees’ heads and start documenting. Preparing for the loss of this information is key. Second, take advantage of the knowledge gained by this generation of your company! Create working mentorships and partnerships within your company that will help translate this knowledge from your older employees to your youngest employees.
When employing an aging workforce, it's best for management to set realistic expectations on commitment. Not all of your baby boomer workforce will be at the same point in their careers. They are not all counting down until retirement and therefore they will not all have the same goals and needs. For instance, some may be less adaptable to change or require just as much training as your younger employees. Upon hiring or during an evaluation, try to pinpoint where they are on their career path so you can set your expectations accordingly.
Nobody wants employees that are counting down to their last day with your company, even if it is a well-deserved retirement. Offer them the same amount of training and professional development opportunities. If they have yet to retire, it is clear that they enjoy their work and the act of working, so keep them engaged, excited, and motivated any way possible. Just as you should do with all your employees, reward and acknowledge them for both personal and professional successes. No matter what stage your older workforce is at in their career, they want to feel like a valued part of your organization.
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