Older Workers Might Save Your Business.

It doesn’t matter where you get your news. Reading about the dire shortage of frontline and hourly workers makes it easier to make it through the day. They are absent from many workplaces, including airlines, food service, senior care, home health, gyms, offices, and airports. Many business owners have had to give up on trying to find, hire, and retain them. This has caused many to close down their businesses or even shut them down permanently. The “Great Resignation” was once called “The Great Reshuffle.” More and more middle-aged workers are looking for work that pays a fair wage and reflects their ideal of creation.

The 55-90-year-old older worker is missing in this picture. They are looking for an additional income source to supplement their savings, social security, and possibly a pension. On the one hand, many older adults want to live longer and healthier lives, while on the other, they face skyrocketing gas and food prices at levels they’ve never seen before. Many are worried and concerned about how they will be able to match a shrinking income and rising consumer prices.

The older worker is different from the 25- to the 50-year-old job seeker in many ways. Employers needing help finding good work would be wise to look at these older workers. The December 2023 Harvard Business Review article by Bob Kramer, Paul Irving, Jacquelyn Kwan, and Ed Frauenheim provides a compelling picture of aging workers and their reasons for hiring them. Based on Activated Insights’ survey of 35,000 older workers from the U.S., the research highlighted the importance of empathy and understanding at work and moving away from “transactional” relationships with employees to a more empathic level.

Seven principles were developed to attract and retain older workers, regardless of their roles.

1. Create Respectful and Purposeful Roles

People connected to the company’s mission and work in the same industry have more motivation and can be related to the company’s goals and purpose. Older workers value jobs that enable them to say, “I’m necessary here,” and “I have an opportunity to serve the customers significantly.” They’ve likely spent most of their lives watching and working in jobs with that quality. They can tell the difference.

2. Flexibility Schedules: Arrange and Allow

The study found that older workers considered flexibility in shifts and absences essential for their later-life work experience. Different industries have different requirements for their workplaces. However, thinking outside the box about scheduling will make workers more loyal and willing to go above and beyond what is expected.

3. Pay for the job, not for the tenure

Compensation is not among the top 10 factors influencing the recruitment and retention of older workers. It is important to emphasize the value of their work and the flexibility you offer. Researchers cite Thomas Chamorro–Premuzic and Josh Bersin’s work, who argue that older workers should be valued based on their job and not on their years in the company.

4. Accept and adapt to physical challenges

Some modifications may be required to create a positive work environment for older workers. More sitting opportunities may be needed for those with foot or leg pain from standing for prolonged periods. Ask your employees more senior than you what would make their work life more enjoyable. Different people have different needs. If you allow them to make changes, you will likely find that they are more productive than your younger workers.

5. Communicate clearly and candidly

The survey results show that leaders communicate clearly and openly with their employees. This is especially true for those who manage frontline workers. This investment will pay off if people learn to communicate respectfully in both directions. It builds trust, and people are likelier to stay at a job they can trust.

6. Build Community and Camaraderie

Fun-loving workplaces where everyone enjoys each other’s company are the ultimate goal. You can foster this community at work if you follow the five principles.

This atmosphere can be sponsored in many different ways. Picnics in summer, Halloween costume contests, and pumpkin carving are all ways to promote this type of atmosphere. There are many ways to have fun at work, but you can also make it more personal by incorporating these ideas into your workplace.

Building community can also be about building a compassionate workplace. You can show compassion by giving your employees extra time off in times of personal crisis, such as sending flowers or cards to someone sick or dying or celebrating birthdays and births.

7. Tackle Ageism

You will shine a light on an ageist world if you recognize your workers’ contributions and talents without regard for their age. Be a role model for anti-Ageism by highlighting your older workers wherever possible. Ageism can also be sneaky, and you need to create a zero-tolerance environment in your workplace.

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