Back to Basics: Preparing Organisations for a Maturing Workforce | EAPA-SA

As employees are staying in the workforce for a longer and retiring later in life it is important for organisations to put various practices in place to prepare for a larger population of more mature workers. Internationally, proactive organisations are tapping into the older talent pool by extending their career models, creating new development paths, and inventing roles to accommodate workers in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. This is seen to be of particular importance to ensure the best utilisation of this valuable personnel resource – and to keep more mature employees from being stuck in an outdated mindset.

Embrace employing older workers

As talent markets grow more competitive, organisations are finding it valuable to retain their older workers rather than replace them with younger ones.  Moreover, as workers seek to remain employed for longer, employers should jump at the opportunity to hire these seasoned professionals who have lots of wisdom to share.  In a culture that often discards older workers due to negative preconceptions about age; older workers are able to provide organisational stability while younger members of the workforce provide innovation and new insights.

Make sure your company culture values experience

To prepare for more mature workers, businesses should ensure that their corporate culture values experience. Today, ideas and the pace at which they are conceived seem to be a driver for decisions to be taken outside of experience.  However, their years of experience in the workplace give older workers a superior understanding of how jobs can be done more efficiently, which can save organisations money.  Their confidence means they won’t hesitate to share their ideas with management and they make employees who are less thrown when problems occur.

Create roles suited to older employees’ knowledge and skills

There are many roles within an organisation where long-term organisational experience is invaluable. Organisations that are interested in retaining their older employees should be proactive in offering them tailor-made roles suited to their knowledge and skills – not to mention being aware of their future work aspirations.  In addition, it is essential that organisations train their managers to carry out fair performance appraisals which reflect the accurate performance of older employees and are free from age bias, as well as being able to provide them with insightful and relevant feedback.

 Develop knowledge-sharing and training programs

Many organisations have senior leadership teams that are in their 50s and early 60s, not to mention   dozens of long-term, extremely experienced staff in the same age bracket.  Does this mean that these organisations are poised to experience the loss of their entire leadership teams and institutional knowledge in the next few years?  Workers aged 50-plus are a valuable organisational resource for training and mentoring younger employees.  Organisations should prepare for a more age-diverse workforce by creating employee development programmes that capitalise on passing on workers’ various knowledge and skills, offering mentorship programmes so that experienced workers can share their knowledge with younger employees.

Re-skill older talent

It may seem to be counter-intuitive, but organisations need to invest in human capital to remain competitive in an age of disruptive technology.  Research recently conducted by McKinsey reveals that among leading companies in the United States, executives increasingly see investing in retraining and up-skilling existing workers as an urgent business priority.  It is important to encourage senior workers to reinvent themselves and to invest in programmes that assist them in acquiring new technical skills.

Grow soft skills – offer emotional intelligence workshops

Organisations are often very diligent at providing hard skills training, but the future world of work will require deeper levels of understanding and social connectedness to manage unequalled change.

To help a broad range of employees function better together, there is great benefit to be had in offering workshops and coaching that will develop soft skills, with emotional intelligence among them.  According to emotional intelligence (EQ) success is strongly influenced by personal qualities such as perseverance, self-control and skill in getting along with others.

The traditional assumption that learning ends in one’s 20s, career progression ends in the 40s, and work ends in the 60s is no longer accurate or sustainable; and rethinking personnel strategies to accommodate employing multiple generations is going to require an open mind and fresh approaches.  Preparing an organisation to retain or employ older talent may present challenges, however, staying competitive in a world of unparalleled longevity demands that organisations are proactive in adopting these new strategies to engage and make the most of more mature talent.

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