In recent years, there has been a significant demographic shift with a globally ageing population. This has led to a lengthening of working lives and a greater presence of older workers in organizations. In this article, we explore the rising importance of older workers and how companies can benefit from this trend.
The Aging Workforce
In a Bain & Company article titled "Better with Age: The Rising Importance of Older Workers," it is highlighted how populations are ageing and working lives are lengthening. Newer generations are entering the workforce less due to lower fertility rates and longer education. This means that over the next decade, there will be a significant growth in the number of older workers in the workforce.
According to Bain's analysis, by 2031 workers aged 55 to 65 will represent over 25% of the workforce in G7 countries. In Japan, for example, this figure will be close to 40%. This is not just a phenomenon in developed countries but also in emerging economies such as China and Brazil. Globally, it is estimated that around 150 million jobs will be occupied by older workers by the end of the decade.
Challenges and Opportunities
Despite this trend, many organizations have not yet implemented specific programs to integrate older workers into their talent systems. According to a global survey conducted in 2020, less than 4% of companies have actually adopted such programs, while only 27% stated that they were "very likely" to explore this in the future. However, there is compelling evidence that companies with a age-diverse workforce exhibit lower turnover and greater productivity than industry benchmarks.
Archetypes of Older Workers
Bain's research has identified six archetypes of workers, each with different motivations. In the advanced age group, "craftsmen" emerge, motivated by the desire to master their craft, and "givers," driven by the desire to serve others and make a positive impact on their lives. Understanding these motivations can help companies design programs and opportunities that meet the specific needs of older workers.
Empowering Older Workers
For organizations to fully leverage the potential of older workers, a number of measures need to be taken. These include:
Retention and Recruitment: Provide a working environment that meets the needs of older workers, offering flexibility and engaging development opportunities throughout their career.
Re-skilling: Offer older workers training opportunities to acquire new skillsets, both to address current challenges and to prepare for future labour market demands.
Skill-Based Deployment: Recognise and utilise the unique skills of older workers, offering them roles that best harness their knowledge and experience.
In conclusion, the ageing population and lengthening of working lives are leading to an increase in the presence of older workers in organizations. Companies that recognise the value and challenges of this trend can benefit from age diversity, reduced turnover, and increased productivity. Empowering older workers through recruitment programs, re-skilling, and skill-based deployment can lead to positive outcomes for both organisations and workers themselves.