In today’s society an employer cannot afford not to engage its ageing workforce, particularly when it comes to appreciating their specific needs and wants as an older employee. In fact, retaining ageing staff may be just as important as attracting ageing employees.
At the age of 54, Jane Fletcher* decided to enter retirement. In retrospect she felt she retired too young and a few years later, she was on a mission to invest her skills and knowledge in an area of interest. She wanted something to keep her occupied; volunteer work crossed her mind. Like a typical baby boomer, she was loyal to her employers, having spent a significant stint at a small not-for-profit for 17 years.
The second time around, Jane had her ideal employer tick box ready.
Her preferred employer had to offer:
- Reduced work hours
- Like-minded values
- Meaningful work
- Reduced stress
- Staff development
“When I decided to return to the workforce, my motivations in what I was looking for in an employer had changed. I wanted a job that was flexible so that I could do the things that I loved such as spending time with my family, playing golf and reading. I wanted a boss who appreciated that I had entered another phase of life,” said Jane.
Today, as a 65 year old, Jane works three days a week as a bequest officer at a not-for-profit. As relationship building is critical to the success of her role, she spends most of her time visiting clients in their home. If she’s not on the road, Jane’s busy making phone calls to loyal supporters. When she’s not sipping tea with a client she’s probably organising a company fundraiser. Occasionally she’s registering for courses and staff development opportunities – if she can participate in a course that will enhance her skills, she will.
“It was important for me to work for an employer who respected my needs. I wanted to work for a company who believed in what they stood for, their cause was really important. I wanted a place that was still willing to invest in me and believed that I was a valuable function within a company,” said Jane.
According to the (US) Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of “older” workers (over age 55) will increase steadily from 12% in 2000 to 20% by 2025. This cohort is a critical function of business delivery. They hold a wealth of knowledge attained through loyalty to an organisation.
Another interesting point Jane explores is the fear retirees faced during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).
“Due to the GFC, a lot of retirees wanted to re-enter the workforce. The GFC had a massive impact on super and many retirees decided to re-enter the workforce,” said Jane.
What would it mean if employers proactively recruited older people?
Jane’s answer is simple.
“The knowledge older employees hold is invaluable and the information they could pass on to younger employees is a positive aspect in seeing great outcomes for a company. It would be great to see older and younger people mixing and working together,” said Jane.
If an employer is proactively developing strategies to retain its existing ageing workforce, they should consider the benefits of engaging older talent searching for employment. But before anything, the workforce must value older workers, reflected in the attitudes of the leaders of the company.
People like Jane bring to a company strong skills, invaluable knowledge and loyalty. Priceless.
Reeni is our new Senior Accounts Manager, specialising in Aged Care Marketing. She knows the ageing space.
*name has been changed to protect identity.