Is Your Workforce Age-ready?

Every company seems to be focused on hiring the next young talent. Yet, a recent Mercer study found that they may be overlooking the older talent pool that they already have to their peril.

Mercer noted that organizations that actively leverage their older, experienced workforce will be best positioned for the future of work, in a study called “Next Stage: Are You Age-Ready?”.

The importance of being “age-ready” was underscored for both businesses and economies by the impact of the twin forces of a rapidly aging labor force coupled with an uncertain global 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."

Mercer identified several ways that experienced workers contribute value. They include:

  • 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 the 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 often 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 inexperienced workers as part of their workforce strategy.

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.