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An Aging Workforce: Exposure & Tips for Management

  • By:
  • Alliance Insurance Group
  • |
  • Dec. 11th, 2015

There's an emerging trend in the workplace creating an important challenge for many organizations and their management teams -- an aging and multi-generational workforce. Older and elderly workers are remaining in the workforce after traditional retirement age, and not just because lifespans are longer. Many adults are feeling the aftershock of the Great Recession, and are finding that the size of their personal retirement sum is insufficient.

The sheer size of the Baby Boomer Generation could also be contributing to the size of the aging workforce, as well as their cultural decision to keep working despite advancing years.

For today's employers, these trends mean that they will see aging workers as applicants for more and more positions offered. According to a recent government report, workers aged 55 and older are projected to account for nearly one-fifth of America's workforce by the year 2015. Subsequently, a growing percentage will be applying for similar jobs that younger workers would traditionally apply for.

Age discrimination exposure

One repercussion ofthe emergence of an aging workforce is elevated rates of age discrimination. This form of ageism can pose a certain amount liabilityexposure for companies in both the hiring phase and the employee management phase. It's a complex issue for organizations and aging employees alike:

• When it comes to managing an aging workforce, studies show that perceptions are positive towards older workers with regard to their experience, work-ethic, knowledge, and loyalty.

• Simultaneously, those same studies show those same managers are worried that older workers are prone to inflexibility, unknowledgeable about new technology, afraid or unwilling to adapt to new trends in technology and social media, and possess greater health risks.

Another issue for aging workers is that companies don't want to deal with the potential liabilities of age discrimination in the workplace. These worries will often keep companies from hiring aging applicants in the first place.

In today's ever-evolving economic climate, a different set of management skills are needed to adapt to the changes created by a multi-generational workplace.

Tips for management

1. Be flexible. One of the most important things an older worker looks for is flexibility. Maintain a management style that's flexible with regard to process and a culture that's flexible in terms of schedule, and benefits.

2. Be willing to offer specific training. Offer opportunities for an elderly worker to get up to speed with the technology your organization currently uses.

3. Create challenges and opportunities. There may be better, or more efficient ways to utilize the talents an aging worker possesses. Employ management styles that provide challenges and create opportunities for enhanced performance.

An Alliance Advocate can help your company navigate both the benefits and potential liability exposure of an aging workforce. Contact us today to see how we can help your company stay competitive and safe in today's fast-paced employment environment.