By Anja van den Berg
The world’s population is ageing: globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.
According to the United Nations (UN), population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets.
According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2017 Revision, the number of older persons ─ those aged 60 years or over ─ is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2,1 billion in 2050 and 3,1 billion in 2100.
“Many of today’s 10-year olds will live to be 120, and it’s not a stretch, therefore, to expect them to still be working at 100,” says Richard Andrews, Managing Director of Inspiration Office, a South African company specialising in workstation solutions.
“Workplace demands will change as people live and work longer and the best time to adapt is now.”
What can your company do to get ready for longer tenures and a larger population of older workers? Several experts in the field, including members of Forbes Coaches Council, identified numerous ways to prepare for this shift in the business world:
- Rewrite the meaning of work-life balance
People will stop waiting for their retirement to rest and enjoy life outside of work, says Caterina Kostoula, an executive coach and founder of The Leaderpath. “More and more people will take miniretirements throughout their careers. By including this option in your perks, you will immediately differentiate yourself from your competitors and attract great talent. Also, you will benefit from a workforce that stays fresh, current and not burnt-out.”
- Develop knowledge-sharing and training programmes
“As more employees delay retirement, companies will begin to feel the impact, both economically and socially,” says Rick Gibbs, a consultant at Insperity, a full-service HR services provider. “Businesses can encourage and prepare for a more age-diverse workforce by creating employee development programmes that capitalise on workers’ various skills, offering mentorship opportunities for seasoned workers to share their experience and allowing for role changes or flexible schedules.”
- Set the same standard of work for all age groups
Prepare for an older workforce by creating expectations based on your brand values, but not specifically as an age issue, says John M O’Connor from Career Pro Inc., a comprehensive career services firm specialising in both individual and corporate outsourcing. “In my conversations with older workers in career transition, their frustration often lies in what to expect and what not to expect from an employer. For example, if an employer states that employees need to be learning agile, then set this as a precedent for all workers.”
- Synergise cross-generational teams
“Creating cross-generational teams and encouraging collaboration can help to diffuse age bias,” Andrews explains. “Collectively, this could improve the corporate culture in the workplace, while also helping older employees maintain a high level of performance.” To facilitate cross-generational synergy, training is not only important for helping older workers to learn new skills and master new technologies, but also for supervisors managing employees of varying ages.
To prepare for an older workforce, employers must balance their workforce demographics according to their strategic direction. In a culture that often discards older workers due to negative perceptions of age, older workers provide organisational stability, while new workforce entrants accelerate new insights. Both ends of the age spectrum require customised benefits that meet their expectations.
World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/ageing/en/
World Health Organisation: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/186468/WHO_FWC_ALC_15.01_eng.pdf?sequence=1
World Health Organisation: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/186463/9789240694811_eng.pdf;jsessionid=A0771549DAD066BCCAC99822319B34E5?sequence=1
HR Future: https://hrfuture.net/articles/strategy/diversity-inclusion/6-ways-your-company-can-adapt-to-an-ageing-workforce
Inspiration Office: https://www.inspirationoffice.co.za/about-us.html
United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/ageing/
Global Economic Symposium: https://www.global-economic-symposium.org/knowledgebase/piercing-the-veil-of-the-future/proposals/accommodating-an-older-workforce-challenges-and-solutions
Career Pro Inc.: https://careerproinc.com/about
The Leaderpath: https://www.theleaderpath.com/