HOW (AND WHY) TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN OLDER TALENT
The workforce is aging. People are living longer and retiring later. So while wooing Gen Zs is important, you won’t stay competitive if you don’t make your boomers feel OK.
The Benefits of Older Workers
Older workers add tremendous value to an organisation. As well as years of experience and irreplaceable knowledge, they’re typically loyal and dedicated with a strong work ethic. Don’t forget that including workers of all ages will also improve your diversity and make it easier to connect with the growing population of older customers.
What’s more, older workers are often able to mentor the younger ones, and by setting up mentoring relationships you can preserve knowledge that will otherwise be lost when they retire.
Attracting Older Workers
Recruiting older workers takes a slightly different approach. Consider these ideas:
- Reach out to organisations where older people are looking for opportunities;
- Use personal connections and word-of-mouth referrals;
- Create a formal programme to attract older candidates;
- Avoid terms like “young and energetic”, “digital native,” or “recent grads” in your job ads or job descriptions; and
- Steer clear of biased questions in interviews that may come across as age discrimination.
The ultimate goal is to find the best person for the job—regardless of age.
Offer Appealing Benefits
To attract and retain older workers, you’ll need to offer the kind of benefits that appeal to them.
- Healthcare benefits
- Long and short-term disability
- Competitive pension plans
- Retirement benefits
- Investment counselling and financial planning
- Elder care support for those with aging parents
- Onsite child care for grandchildren
- Wellness programmes
- Gym memberships
Make sure you communicate all benefits effectively to your employees through the employee handbook or other channels.
Offer Reasonable Accommodations
You’re legally required to offer “reasonable accommodations” for the needs of all your disabled employees, regardless of age. But when it comes to older workers it pays to be aware that they’re likely to have some extra support needs, even if they’re not diagnosed with a disability. Proactively offering some extra comforts will go a long way.
For example, a factory could provide older employees with the option to sit down on the job rather than standing at a production line all day. Other accommodations include optical magnifiers/large print and assistive listening devices. The important thing is to make sure everyone can do their job safely, securely and efficiently.
Provide Scheduling Options
Older employees can be some of the most enthusiastic proponents of flexible working, as someone who no longer has the energy to do their best work while commuting to a 9-5 job in an office Monday to Friday may be much happier and more productive with more flexibility. Remember too that many older workers have grandchildren to take care of and would appreciate more time with them. Consider offering remote working, reduced or staggered hours, and compressed schedules or job sharing.
Offer Older Workers Additional Training
Don’t assume your older workers are too old to learn. They may particularly appreciate some extra classes to bring them up to speed with new technologies, but don’t leave it at that. Show them that you’re willing to invest in them and give them the opportunity to learn whatever new skills interest them, and they can add value to your organisation for years to come.
Offer Phased Retirement
People don’t suddenly become too old to work overnight. Many don’t want to disengage completely and would love the opportunity of a phased retirement where they gradually decrease their days and hours. This also gives you the opportunity to benefit from their knowledge and expertise and have time for a full handover.
Make Older Workers Feel Valued
Most importantly of all, you need to show your older workers that you value and respect them. Keep communication lines open and send them messages of appreciation and thanks. Consider asking them to mentor younger employees too—most will be flattered to be asked. Don’t stereotype them or make assumptions about them, but focus on their strengths and celebrate what they bring to your organisation.