Written by: Ellen Kocher, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Nearly 40% of the workforce in Europe, the UK, and the US are over 50. In addition, today’s demographics mean a projected lifespan of well over 80 years. Depending upon when one “retires”, that sums up to 20-30 years of exciting, active life to prepare for!
This ends “retirement” as we know it and means that the workplace of the future will skew even further in the direction of more “older” workers.
For the first time in history, we have five generations represented in the workplace at the same time. However, while organizations are renewing their DEI efforts, only 8% include age as part of their strategy. While research shows bias around sexuality and race has declined over the last 12 years, unconscious bias around ageism has barely shifted. The EEOC reports that age is the one critical element overlooked by most companies' DEI initiatives.
Yet, evidence shows that when DEI tools are used to bridge age divides, they can reduce conflict and generational stereotypes and improve organizational commitment, job satisfaction, employee turnover, and organizational performance.
To combat workplace ageism and adapt to today’s demographic reality, DEI strategies need to grow up and become a critical part of the plan.
Why organizations must grow up
Research shows that by 2030, many of the world's largest economies will have more jobs than active employees to do them. Older workers represent a considerable untapped potential that could substantially cushion the impact of this change on the labor market.
According to the World Economic Forum, current retirement and pension systems are not equipped for the reality of unprecedented longevity and shifting work and health outcomes. Neither are most people’s life plans.
Aging professionals want to feel empowered, and productive, have purpose and contribute to society. According to a representative survey by Deloitte, 40% of all economically active 50–64-year-olds’ would like to work beyond retirement age and 30% of retirees say they would have continued to work if they had had the opportunity.
The multigenerational workforce is an overwhelming reality. Evidence shows that when we decrease generational stereotypes and age divides, conflicts can be reduced; improving commitment, job satisfaction, employee turnover, and performance.
How organizations can grow up
Organizations need to rethink “retirement” planning and other generational-relevant training and development to inspire a new mindset in company culture far beyond simple financial planning. A holistic approach to the older years including physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual well-being needs to accompany the new world transition.
This “grown-up” mindset will allow employers to:
Proactively plan and anticipate demographic trends to ensure a stronger talent pipeline (focusing on knowledge transfer through coaching and mentoring or job-sharing between younger and older employees, for example).
Commit to supporting staff of all ages by including older generations in Diversity and Inclusion initiatives.
Reinforce staff's resilience to face business and personal challenges through a holistic approach to personal well-being.
Accompany older employees through the transition to improve presenteeism, absenteeism, and morale.
Enhance employer’s reputation by demonstrating genuine concern for employee well-being and the 5-generation workforce.
Tangibly support the organization’s values with concrete actions and measurable results.
Generational differences become strengths by removing the lens of age and shifting the focus toward employee abilities, skills, experience, and knowledge. Age-diverse teams offer better decision-making, more-productive collaboration, and improved overall performance — but only if members are willing to share and learn from their differences.
Updated, proactive age management practices can contribute to staff morale by reducing concerns or fears while inspiring new ideas, confidence, and innovation and expanding the talent recruitment pool.
Together, combatting age barriers, motivating, and promoting age diversity, supporting health and well-being, and rethinking retirement will allow both employees and organizations to thrive!
Ready to grow up?
If you are ready to include age in your DEI initiatives and to support your older employees through transition and preparation for their next life phase — inside or outside your organization — Do this short QUIZ to discover your starting point for managing the aging demographic in your organization. If you need support, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellen Kocher, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Ellen Kocher is an Economist and Certified Workplace Wellness Consultant who holds a master’s degree in Health & Wellness Coaching. Following 10 years as an Executive in Finance, Ellen made some major lifestyles change and has dedicated the past 20+ years to walking her talk through workplace wellbeing, promoting a holistic approach to eating, physical activity, health, resilience, and self-care. Ellen has coached hundreds of individuals and groups in dozens of organizations to make sustainable lifestyle changes empowering them to go from knowing what to do to actually doing it! Most recently Ellen’s work focuses on the 50+ demographic.