Organizations that actively leverage their older, experienced workforce* will be best positioned for the future of work, according to Mercer’s recently published report, “Next Stage: Are You Age-Ready?”. The importance of being “age-ready” is underscored for both businesses and economies by the impact of the twin forces of a rapidly-aging labor force coupled with an uncertain economic growth rate.
“With labor force size, participation rate and productivity so closely tied to business and economic growth, the experienced workforce is a source of talent and competitive advantage that employers need to embrace now,” said Pat Milligan, Senior Partner and Global Leader of Mercer’s Multinational Client Group. “To be ‘age-ready’, however, requires a thoughtful and careful analysis of this workforce segment as well as a change in mindset as to how experienced workers truly add value to organizations.”
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Through its work with clients around the world, Mercer has identified a number of ways experienced workers contribute value, often well beyond the traditional measures of individual performance tracked by most employers.
Mercer finds experienced workers are particularly valuable to employers in that they often:
- Lower costs because they are less likely to leave
- As supervisors, tend to retain, develop and engage more junior employees and decrease voluntary leave on the teams they manage
- Increase productivity of those around them through knowledge sharing
- Strengthen group cohesion, collaboration and resiliency
- Enable innovation and strengthen customer connection
Yet for many employers, experienced workers are largely ignored or misperceived in their strategic workforce plans. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report, only 4% of respondents said they planned on investing in experienced workers as part of their workforce strategy 2.
This urgency for employers to address their experienced worker strategy is heightened by global demographic trends: by 2040 the average life expectancy is predicted to be 80 years, up from 56 in 1966 and 72 in 2016. As a result, many people are working longer for a variety of reasons, including financial necessity, purpose, and social/intellectual engagement.
“For employers, managing a rapidly growing older workforce is a challenge without precedent,” said Rick Guzzo, Partner and co-Founder of Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute. “In the US rates of working among older individuals have been rising and will continue to rise, with the highest growth rates among those aged 70-74 and 75-79. Given this reality, organizations that are more ‘age-ready’ than their competitors will likely have a significant strategic advantage.”
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