Developing an Older Workforce Strategy
By Barbara Jaworski
The warning signs have been there for years, but only recently as retirees begin to pack their bags and leave the workforce have the numbers really begun to reveal the shocking truth: There just aren’t enough young people to take their place. The baby boomer generation alone makes up about one third of Canada’s total population, that’s about 4.3 million people gearing up to leave all at once taking their years of knowledge, experience and skills with them.
Fortunately there is hope; people these days are living much longer, healthier lives than ever before. Not everyone wants to retire, in fact many are looking to embark on a second or even third career. It’s time to abandon old stereotypes like ‘older workers are less productive,’ and start looking at the facts: Older workers want to work! It’s up to us to develop the necessary strategies to retain and engage them before they’re either gone for good or working for someone else.
A good place to start would be to take a step backwards and survey the talent you currently have.
- How old is your current workforce? How many people do you expect to retire in the next year? The next 3 years? The next 5? This process is now unpredictable for employers to predetermine given the repeal of mandatory retirement.
- How many are electing to stay? If you have these numbers you can see where the gaps may begin to form in your organization and begin to develop the outlines of your older workforce strategy.
- Ask yourself, what types of jobs will become available when retirees leave and what kind of experiences will replacements will need to do their job well? Note that efficiency is ageless but ground in experience. You don’t have to be young to be competent in your job.
Employers have several options when it comes to developing an older workforce strategy that works for them. Firstly, figure out what your business risks will be. Second, find out what your older workers opinions are on you business risk and how they recommend you tackle this issue.
For those that focused on retention and engagement of their older workers, consider programs like:
- Flexible work hours/working remotely.
- Retiree ‘pools’ to bring back past employees for temp work.
- Offer competitive benefits and pensions packages.
Still not sure what your organization needs to stay on top? There is a large array of consulting services online that will assist your organization and develop a plan that works for you. The bottom line is that in a world where competition for jobs is heated, but top talent is scarce, people need to stop looking at one another in terms of black and white, old and young, and start focusing in on the grey – Who is the best suited for what position and how can they help?