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An Ageing Workforce Part 4: Why You Can’t Ignore Older Workers

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It’s proven that companies shouldn’t ignore older workers anymore, so what can they do to overcome the challenges of hiring them?

With an ever growing number of active agers, the day has come for employers to embrace the value of older workers, and although older workers may not be as tech-savvy as their younger colleagues, what they have are years of real working experience companies are unable to replace. With a growing presence of older workers due to dwindling birthrates and longer life expectancies, the global economy has no choice but to rely on the 50-plus-year-olds to work, and that’s an undeniable fact.

In fact retirement at 60-years-old these days is uncommon, as we are looking at an increasing number of people who either want to continue working or come out of retirement, due to two simple reasons – mental engagement and income. Globally, people are leading longer and healthier lives, and sadly retirement might also be out of reach for some, not matter how rosy the picture is being painted by some quarters of society. As such, it does help when one is gainfully employed.


To ensure that these workers are effective in their assigned roles, the government and private sector employers would need to invest in more training programmes to ease them into the system effectively. However, though it is understandable that most employers don’t want to spend for it, looking at long term prospects, the spending is inevitable, as populations age — society turns top heavy, with younger workers at the bottom of the inverted pyramid supporting the retirees. Economists have been warning us of this for decades, so it’s time for companies in the name of self interest to invest in training.


What skills will these workers need? The customer service oriented 50-year-old with the ability to calm an irate customer can also be trained to man your social media platforms while a 55-year-old sales guy with numerous contacts to tap on can be redeployed to the product marketing team to help improve on the product’s packaging. But prior to such reassignments, there’s a need for employers to provide a roadmap and think far ahead, and identify what skills need to be ramped up or taught so older workers can be more effective.


Not only are your workers ageing, so is your infrastructure. An ageing population is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean your tools and machinery have to age as well. In fact, retrofitting the workplace with age-friendly tools may be beneficial to the business because it could reduce downtime of essential employees and the associated costs of injuries. Minor changes can also make a positive impact on employee morale.


Reassure older employees that you respect their experience and abilities and that they are still making a valuable contribution to the success of your business. This can be accomplished by offering a more flexible work schedule, placing them in a mentorship role, as well as address any age-related bias with in-house presentations and collaterals among others.

To sum it up, older workers are here to stay and will definitely be a part of the working world for a long, long time, and with some effort and expense invested, companies can actually benefit from their experience. Over the next 20 years as the Baby Boomers retire, companies will need to rethink their roadmaps to ensure a seamless transition between the generations of workers. From the looks of it, as the global labour market continues to shrink, the older workers will be placed in an advantageous position in deciding the kind of  jobs they do, when, and how they work. It might be prudent for companies to provide assurances to older workers that they are highly valued for their loyalty, experience and networks.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 5 here.




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