Silver Linings: Why Companies Are Focusing on Older Workers

Jan 25, 2024

Traditional retirement has gone the way of the dodo.

No longer do employees expect to stop working at age 65—and no longer are companies prepared to lose them, either.

The reasons for this are pretty straightforward. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country is expected to add 8.3 million new jobs from 2021 to 2031, while the labor force is both shrinking and gradually skewing older. Employers are therefore looking to attract and retain senior workers, with 60% saying they gave a “great deal” or “quite a bit” of consideration to job applicants aged 50 and older in 2022.

Meanwhile, a Bain & company report found that 41 percent of Americans today expect to work past the age of 65, compared with just 12 percent 30 years ago. The same Bain report found that a staggering 150 million jobs globally will have shifted to workers over the age of 55 by 2030. 150 million! That’s roughly the size of the working population of the entire United States. Let that sink in.

Of course, companies’ ability to keep—and keep happy—these older workers is bolstered by a few key details. First, of course, is the exponential expansion of remote-work capabilities. There are numerous new tools that allow people to work from anywhere: home, coffee shop, or grandchildren’s living room. Work-life balance is improved, with employees having more control than ever over how (and where) they spend their time, which is why seniors are seeking out work from home positions.

Then, there is the shifting corporate attitude towards flexibility and virtual work. According to a recent McKinsey report, 90% of companies are embracing hybrid workplaces. They recognize the benefits of these dynamic arrangements, with documented boosts to productivity, efficiency, engagement, work-life balance, and more.

Last, but certainly not least, there is the fact that seniors continue to live longer, healthier lives, with the desire to continue contributing to the economy, society at large, and their own communities in rich and significant ways.

It’s clear that companies would do well to focus on attracting and retaining these vibrant “pretirees,” as we call them at Wahve. How? In our experience, there are several specific things that older workers are looking for in a job, including:

  • The opportunity to do interesting, fulfilling work;
  • Flexible arrangements, such as reduced hours, nontraditional work hours, remote work, job sharing, and phased retirement;
  • Training, both for career advancement and learning new skills as well as for providing mentorship opportunities to younger workers.

What are some ways your company is attracting and retaining more experienced, senior employees?

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