Thinking differently about the value of older workers

Age-friendly employers recognize the contributions of people who are 50+

A new guide from the Encore Network summarizes the policies and practices that age-friendly employers are implementing and the resulting benefits. The guide – Age is Now a Strategic Imperative: An Employers Guide to Engaging Older Workerssays, “Age diversity contributes to productivity, improved morale, innovation, workforce stability, and profitability.

People are living longer and at the same time, the birth rate is dropping. “The convergence of these trends is raising awareness among employers that their continued growth – and that of the economy more broadly – depends on a shift in human capital strategy,” notes the guide.

The guide details the benefits that older workers bring to the job. Among the highlights:

  • From their life and work experience, many older workers have attributes employers say they are seeking – problem solving, critical thinking, self-management, resilience, leadership, and social skills, according to the World Economic Forum.
  • Older workers are more likely to stay in their jobs longer than workers of other ages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Engaging older workers could raise GDP per capita by 19% over the next three decades. The economic contribution of the 50+ population will triple by 2050, according to AARP.
  • Older workers can provide mentoring opportunities, according to Employee Benefit News.

The guide provides a checklist for employers that are aiming to become more age-friendly. Among the suggestions:

  • Use data and analytics to avoid age bias in HR decisions.
  • Use age-inclusive images and language in job postings, websites, and other communications.
  • Avoid phrases like “digital native,” “recent grad,” “early career professional,” “high energy.”
  • Include age as part of diversity training and awareness-building efforts throughout the organization.
  • Train recruiters and hiring managers to avoid age-biased assumptions about ability, salary requirements, and tenure.
  • Offer flexible work options, including flexible hours, part-time work and phased retirement.

The guide also points out myths about the older worker, including:

In addition, the guide includes an extensive list of resources, tools, and toolkits for employers.

The guide – Age is Now a Strategic Imperative: An Employers Guide to Engaging Older Workers – is sponsored by the Age-Friendly Institute.