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Businesses need to plan for older workforce

It’s no secret that the workforce here in the U.S. and other industrialized nations is aging. But according to Reuters, companies are doing little in address this issue and adapt to the older worker’s needs.

A growing segment of workforce

According to the Census Bureau, the size of the 65-and-over population will essentially double in the next 30 years, going from 48 million currently to 88 million in 2050. Those numbers translate into changes in the workforce. According to the Department of Labor, 25 percent of U.S. workers will be 55 and over by 2024. This is up from just 12 percent in 1994.

Why is this happening?

There are a number of factors involved in this demographic shift:

  • People are living longer and remaining in relatively good health.
  • People are planning to live longer, so they continue to work to support themselves.
  • Even those who could retire and be financially comfortable, choose to work to stay active.

Many businesses yet to adapt

According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey done in 2016, businesses large and small are slow to address these changes. This is attributed to a lack of urgency and a short-term mindset held by employers to not look more than a year or two ahead.

But some are changing their thinking

While biases persist against older workers as slow and hard to train, some employers have woken up to the fact that the best pool of talent may be the workers they already have. Some companies have taken steps to try to keep aging talent. These alternate routes for late career work include:

  • Flexible assignments that keep workers engaged
  • Flexible hours that enable them to travel or pursue other interests
  • Opportunities to mentor younger employees
  • A phased retirement that may include reduced hours or responsibilities

We are all getting older

While some employers fret that older employees mean increased insurance costs, employment rates are currently approaching record highs. In light of this, it is likely that there will be a need for older workers to maintain or fill jobs. Planning ahead to address the changing face of the workforce will only help employers to productively move forward.

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