Embrace the new Workforce

engaged and activeA 2012 report, contracted to Cornell University by the National Technical Assistance and Research Center (NTAR), Titled “Employer Strategies for Responding to an Aging Workforce,”  began as an investigation into the expected rise in disabilities among older workers.

Instead it found healthier, “more engaged” workers of retirement age. (p.3). It also found many examples of a recently uncovered side effect of the aging workforce. The NTAR report cited work by two researchers under the sub-heading, “Loss of Expertise: The Brain Drain.” (p.4).

“By 2020, 25 million Baby Boomers, who make up more than 40 percent of the U.S. labor force, will be exiting the workforce in large numbers and leaving many jobs to be filled.

With their departure, the work characteristics that define the Baby Boomer generation – results-driven, ambitious, idealistic, competitive, optimistic, and people-oriented – may be lost unless companies creatively develop strategies to simultaneously retain older workers and transition their knowledge to younger workers. (Morton, Foster & Sedlar, 2005).

These workers will also take decades of accumulated organizational knowledge with them and this “brain drain” could result in the loss of key information about customers or practices that could be devastating to organizations. (Pitt-Catsouphes & Matz-Costa, 2009).

The extensive report identified several previous studies that warned American businesses of the need to prepare for an aging workforce. It also named large corporations and entire industries that had taken little or no action to document, plan for, or even consider what percentage of their workforce would soon retire. (p.5).

Fortunately, it shared suggestions of ways to keep older workers engaged; such as job swapping, customized employment, and benefit flexibility.

In conclusion, the NTAR report noted:

…the disparity that exists among companies…concerned about retaining the skills and talents of older workers compared with the lack of concern about retaining and accommodation the aging workforce.

Include AGE DIVERSITY in your workforce sooner…because later…you will have no choice.