The workplace is always evolving. The recession, in particular, has hastened and highlighted many of these changes, including the growing age gap among the current workforce. According to a study from the Pew Research Center, over the past 20 years the number of older workers has steadily risen, while younger adults are waiting longer to enter the labor force. This means that the workplace is becoming even more diverse in the age groups it contains, and leaders are now dealing with the added strain of catering their retention and recruitment efforts to this varied palette of employees.
As you strive to maintain and grow your own workforce, keep these considerations in mind as you try to find the right candidates with the experience, culture fit, and attitude you’re looking for.
Workers age 55 and older will account for 90% of the labor market increase from 2008 to 2018, according a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor. And, in a report from CNN, by 2018, almost one out of four employees 65-years-old and beyond will choose to remain in the labor force. Surprisingly, this uptick is not solely tied to financial hardships brought on by the economic collapse. These seasoned workers are choosing to remain in the working world for reasons ranging from living longer to desiring to stay active and engaged. And, as a positive sign to employers, the Pew Research Center study revealed the highest percentage of satisfied workers is among workers 65 and older, with 54% saying they work because they want to. In addition, the Deloitte Talent Edge 2020 study showed Baby Boomers are looking for specific motivations from their employers, including additional benefits, more financial incentives, increased compensation, and strong leadership. But, employers receive a lot in return from this generation of workers. According to research from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, older workers are valued for their institutional knowledge, skills, dependability, training abilities, and long-standing relationships with clients.
On the flip side, the Pew Research Center revealed that the percentage of workers age 16 – 24 within the labor force is at an all-time low. This age group cites two reasons for this – education and lack of jobs. Of those not working, 49% say they don’t work because they’re focused on school and training while almost four out of 10 list inability to find a job as their reason for unemployment. Unlike their older counterparts, almost half said the top reason they work is because they need the money, and only 20% said they actually want to work. Additionally, just 29% of this age bracket lists themselves as “completely satisfied with their job.” However, the younger generations still have a lot to offer. According to the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report, employers want these younger employees due to their fresh ideas, innovation, and technological skills, as well as the fact that they’re needed for future growth and succession planning. Businesses should keep in mind, however, that the motivators for the younger generations are much different from their older counterparts, as shown in the Deloitte study. They are looking for a company culture that aligns with their personal values, flexible work arrangements, new training programs, and support and recognition from managers.
Despite the rather stark differences, the Bank of America Merrill Lynch research concluded that 94% of employers believe it is important to retain older workers and 98% said it’s also important for them to attract younger employees. And, with college graduates having a hard time finding work as a result of employers choosing to under-employ experienced, older workers in exchange for lower pay, it’s vital that employers not lose sight of the importance of building a diverse workplace. Filling your workplace with both experienced, knowledgeable employees and youthful, innovative professionals will not only balance out your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, it will also ensure your business is ready to achieve success both now and in the future.