Are You Preparing for an Ageing Workforce?

By Natanya Rutstein

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Is your organisation taking steps to prepare for the impending growth of a globally aging population and its inevitable impact on your workforce? If not, pay close attention as you read on.

The demographic reality

Global studies conducted by the World Bank (https://data.worldbank.org/ ndicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN)  provide population statistics on the increasing longevity of people worldwide and also reveal a trend of declining birth rates and a globally increasing pension shortfall.

The 2018 Deloitte Human Capital trend report highlights that the combination of these factors presents us with the impending reality of an ageing workforce who are increasingly looking to extend their careers in order to secure sufficient retirement income and medical aid benefits. We are also faced with an inevitable reduction in the available talent pool of traditional ‘working-age’ adults (20-54yrs old) due the declining birth rates (https://www2.deloitte.com/nl/nl/pages/human-capital/articles/human-capitaltrends.html)

Challenges and opportunities

An ageing workforce presents employers with both challenges but also with many opportunities both of which should not be ignored. Some of the challenges an employer may be confronted with are: 

  • Overcoming institutionalised age bias
  • Training managers to deal with a team of multi-generational employees which may include reports who are the same age or even older than their parents
  • Making changes to operational workplace conditions as well as current career paths and job models in order to accommodate the needs and circumstances of older employees
  • Reviewing policies to ensure fairness and eliminate bias (recruitment, training and development, conditions of employment and remuneration)

Some of the many opportunities are:

  • Mentoring and training: Older employees can serve as extremely valuable mentors and trainers as they are able to share and transfer a wealth of knowledge and experience with younger and more inexperienced workers,
  • Widening the talent pool: The consideration of older employees can provide access to a diverse, innovative and committed pool of talent especially in view of current and predicted future shortages. Working in an age-diverse team brings a host of benefits, including fresh perspectives, knowledge sharing, new ideas and improved problem solving.
  • Institutional knowledge: Continued access to institutional and relationship knowledge which can gradually be imparted to younger employees,
  • Reduced hiring costs: Less vacant positions to fill and consequently reduced recruitment and training costs associated with new employees,
  • Better customer service: As the population ages, employers may increasingly find that their customers age too. A workforce that understands your customers will help your business to stay relevant and add insight and empathy in the delivery of an excellent customer experience (CX). Companies such as Fidelity, has prioritized hiring older adults to better reflect and serve their growing older consumer base. (Source: Age Smart Compendium of Strategies and Practices, https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/pdf/ase_compendium.pdf)

Forward looking companies should begin to prepare for the increasing longevity of their workforce and in doing so, harness the diversity and experience of their older employees to boost productivity and engagement. The Talent Hub International has the experience to assist you in reviewing your talent practices in light of this trend.

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