In 2007, the unemployment rate was just 4.6%, we'd just begun to talk about millenials and the major workforce concern was the aging boomers getting ready to retire. Enter the recession. Boomers everywhere started going back to work as they struggled to make ends meet. That was just the beginning. Older workers have struggled--and continue to struggle with both finding work and getting laid off. Yes, there are laws to protect older workers, but more importantly, when you ignore the value of older workers, you're missing out.
As recruiting and talent leaders we spend an incredible amount of time focusing on affinity groups based on gender, ethnicity and veteran status. We can't stop talking about millenials. And diversifying our workforce is exceptionally important. But why have we forgotten about older workers? And why do we think that they can't add value in our innovative, technologically forward workplaces?
They can. But you have to be part of the solution.
First, look at the value that older workers bring. Sure, they may need some technology training, but they're mature, have a strong work ethic and don't expect a promotion every six months.
Second, create programs to help attract and support older workers just like you do for every other affinity group. And get recognized for it. For example, in New York City, over 700,000 workers are over 55. And employers based there can get rewarded for supporting them through the New York Academy of Medicine's Age Smart Employer Awards.
“Today, 700,000 of New York City’s workers are over 55 and they hold a disproportionate percentage of jobs that support the sectors and industries that drive NYC’s economy,” according to Nancy Ploeger, President of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “It is important for New York businesses to plan for population aging and to take action to enhance the contributions of older workers as a key competitive advantage. NYAM’s Age Smart Employer Awards will rightly recognize those organizations who are leading the way to use every employee’s best abilities.”
You can also check out AARP's Best Employers for Workers over 50 and learn how they have benefited from hiring mature workers.
I know firsthand how hard it is for older workers to find a job--I helped my Dad through a job search when he was forced into retirement and it killed me to watch the bias. So look at your data, your surveys, your reports. Are you making a conscious effort to recruit and support older workers in the workplace? These are your parents and grandparents.
exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.