Forget Doing "More With Less": Older Workers Help Companies Accomplish "More with More"
Among the clichés that have been touted throughout our recent economic decline is the demand that people learn to "do more with less". On the contrary, with the following article PrintLink would like to demonstrate the advantages of "doing more with more" when it comes to hiring older employees.
Of course, in order to "do more", you must first understand what "more" means. And typically these days, it translates into cost-saving measures. But to be truly effective, what "more" should really mean for your business is cost-cutting efforts based on a sound understanding of your customers. Minimally, this understanding should include what your customers are trying to accomplish, what assistance they require from you, and what metrics they use to measure your performance and their own. Considered in these terms, any cost-cutting measure worth its salt must preserve the essence of your company’s business success by delivering even better value than before in the eyes of your customers.
Keep in mind, moreover, that your staff are the ones directly responsible for creating this improved value delivery. Provided you are hiring, retaining, and developing them correctly, they are the most influential factor in enabling your business to maintain its value to your customers and therefore your competitive edge. The necessary attributes that will enable them to do so include:
- More experience
- More expertise
- More resourcefulness
- More complex resources
- More productivity
- More diligence
- More enthusiasm
- More integrity
- More commitment
- More work ethic
- More ability to prioritize
- More ability to educate & mentor your future staff.
Note that, at least in our estimation, the above list favors qualities generally found in more mature rather than younger workers. Some of our past articles have already highlighted the specific benefits that older workers bring to the workplace and the value of an age-blended workforce. Attitude, for one thing, is a key distinction between workers nearing retirement and those in the early stages of their career: older workers fundamentally live to work, while younger workers work to live. For this reason, retirement is often a difficult prospect for older workers. And the increased longevity and better health, coupled with the fact that many near retirement-age people simply didn’t develop vibrant activities outside of work, can all impact their decision to stay in the workplace longer. Other influential factors include their desire to continue contributing their skills or interacting with other people professionally or their need to continue working for financial reasons, especially in these recessionary times.
In September 2009, The Pew Research Center, an independent research group, released the results of a study projecting workforce trends to 2016 based on data from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and interviews with 1815 people aged 16 and older about their attitudes toward work. Among its findings, the Pew survey confirms that older workers tend to be happier on the job: in fact, 54% of workers ages 65 and older said they were "completely satisfied" with their jobs versus 29% of workers ages 18 to 64. Thus clearly hiring managers should consider capitalizing on the potential return that human capital investment in older workers could yield in improved retention and productivity resulting from the higher sense of job satisfaction.
In 2009 workforce demographics are changing again!
The Pew study also shows that "older Americans" will make up virtually all of the upcoming growth in the US workforce as a nearly unprecedented number of older workers hold onto jobs, while younger people are deciding to stay in school. Pew's projections to 2016 show that America's projected labor-force increase will consist of a 93% increment of workers aged 55 and older and a 20% increment of workers aged 25-54, while the number of workers aged 16-24 will decrease by 13%. Many among the youngest group are continuing with their schooling because they believe that post-secondary education is needed to get ahead in life. Still others say they decided to continue their schooling because they looked for work previously but couldn’t find a job.
And indeed, the age demographics and circumstances of candidates who are currently registering with us at PrintLink tend to reinforce the Pew survey's statistics. Older adults are indeed staying in the workforce longer, and younger adults are staying out of it longer. Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social and Demographic Trends Project, commented: "Both of these trends pre-dated the current downturn, both have been intensified by it, and both are poised to outlast it."
Reaping the benefits for your company
In analyzing the projected human-resources outlook until 2010, PrintLink sees distinct advantages for our industry. Here's how to capitalize on them:
- Analyze your company's present workforce. Identify the skill sets and work ethic needed to execute the company's strategic future plan.
- Interview existing staff who are nearing retirement age to understand their expertise, motivations, and future plans.
- Develop a plan for your company to maximize its benefits from senior staff members. If this plan entails new hires, bear in mind that in addition to the factors discussed above, fewer younger people will be available to fill entry-level jobs due to lower birth rates in the late 1960s and 1970s. By contrast, older workers, with their experience and knowledge, may be more readily available to fill critical areas of your workforce. Don't make the mistake of feeling that investing in older workers won't pay off – it will. Also give careful consideration to the potential value of bringing people on board who can offer a depth of exposure to the industry and have experienced successful transitioning by their previous employers. But of course ultimately, regardless of the ages of the players involved, your key objective is to hire and retain qualified employees, each of whom will help optimize the overall operational knowledge and productivity of your human resources.
- Identify what further training and development will augment the value delivered by your staff. Take advantage of the fact that today’s youth is becoming more educated and investigate which currently available educational and training programs will benefit your business in particular.
- Create a succession plan that comprehensively combines all your above findings. Also formalize a program whereby older employees mentor younger employees in your company. Remember that although education and training provide a strong foundation, mentoring is the process that actually renders people work-ready.
- Communicate your hiring outlook and objectives to us at PrintLink. Because our personnel services are industry-specific, we understand both employer requirements and job candidates' potential ability to augment a company's value proposition. Thus we can proactively identify candidates who match your particular job requirements and your succession plan.