Out with the Old and in with the New? Not so fast…


Millennials are flooding into the workforce. In fact, research from the Pew Research Center estimates our labor force contains nearly 54 million of 18 to 34-year-olds, making them the largest part of our nation’s workforce.

At the same time, boomers are making a rapid exodus. As I mentioned in an earlier article on the “silver tsunami”:

  • Roughly 17 percent of baby boomers now report that they are retired, up from 10 percent in 2010.

Looks like a pretty straightforward case of “out with the old, in with the new” for the U.S. workforce – right?

Not so fast…

The average age of our workforce is still on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of U.S. employees was 37.7 years old in the mid 1990s. That metric climbed to 40.3 years old by 2004, and by 2024, it’s expected to rise to 42.4 years old.
The boomer generation (some 75 million people) is huge, and adverse economic conditions created by the Great Recession are leading more of them to delay retirement. The net result? By 2022, the 55-and-older demographic will comprise about one-quarter of our nation’s workforce.

That’s far from a complete “changing of the guard.”

Undoubtedly, mature workers will continue to play a vital role in our economy – and your business’ success. Here are just a few advantages they bring:

  • They’re focused. Unlike their younger counterparts, seniors aren’t looking for greener pastures in which to advance their career. When they commit to an employer, they have a clear understanding of what they want to accomplish – and they get the job done.
  • They’re loyal. Research from Pew indicates that more workers ages 65+ say they are “completely satisfied with their jobs” than younger demographics. Since older workers are generally more satisfied at work, they tend to stay longer.
  • They’re strong leaders. Older professionals are adept at the art of face-to-face communication – a critical leadership skill which many millennials lack.
  • They’re connected. With more time in the workforce, mature professionals have had the opportunity to build large networks and forge strong business relationships.
  • They’re flexible. Done with child rearing, older workers often relish the freedom of unconventional job situations.

Older employees have definitely NOT checked out of the workforce.

So don’t check out on them (in today’s tight employment market, you can’t afford to!). Working in the right roles and integrated properly, the U.S. pool of senior talent can be a real source of competitive advantage for your business. Use these tactics to attract and recruit a multigenerational workforce:

Make sure you’re welcoming mature workers (and not inadvertently driving them away):

  • Build an “age-diverse” brand. Be sure your employment brand:
  • emphasizes equal employment opportunities for individuals of all ages;
  • highlights the accomplishments of talented employees of all ages;
  • promotes collaboration and knowledge-sharing across age groups;
  • values the contributions and diverse perspectives of all types of individuals.
  • Examine your corporate culture. Address potential misconceptions or stereotypes which could negatively impact mature individuals’ work experience. Foster a culture of mutual respect to strengthen intergenerational ties and fuel seniors’ long-term success within your organization.
  • Word job postings carefully to “level the playing field” in potential candidates’ minds. If older individuals feel intimidated or excluded by job requirements or cultural aspects listed in your postings, they won’t be likely to apply. Make it clear that your organization: values the experience they bring; is willing to provide reasonable accommodations for the needs of candidates of all ages; and showcases the age-diverse brand you’ve built.

Recruiting ideas:

  • Referrals. Traditional word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for recruiting this demographic. If you don’t have one already, formalize an easy-to-use program which encourages individuals of all ages to refer talent.
  • Collaboration with community partners. Retiree associations, veteran organizations (U.S. Dept of Labor VETS, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, AmVets) and local Offices on Aging are actively connected with diverse, talented seniors. In fact, some even have their own publications to post jobs in, or can provide you with lists of seniors searching for employment.
  • Go to the source. A “grass roots” effort may also work well. Contact senior centers, churches, local schools (which may be a good source for retired teachers) or chambers of commerce to explore advertising, networking or referral program opportunities.

As workforce demographics continue to evolve, so must your recruiting strategies. Experts in recruiting diverse, flexible, professional talent, Corps Team can dramatically shorten your search, increase hiring success and help you stay competitive.


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