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A business case for workers age 50+

By Doug Dickerson, Director, AARP North Carolina

Hopefully, we’ll all live to be age 50. Then what? A new study by AARP and Aon Hewitt

AARP Workers (3)

found that workers age 50+ are the most engaged employees, between 5-7% higher than workers under 50. The study also found that 50+ talent is a key ingredient in a high-performing workforce, and that leading employers focus on recruiting and retaining these workers because the employers value the workers’ experience and maturity.

Companies that boast high employee engagement scores are also high performing companies, because there is a proven relationship between engagement levels and revenue growth: a five percent improvement translates to an additional three percent of company revenue.

Employers are turning to 50+ workers to achieve and maintain a competitive edge, especially given the declining proportion of younger workers and projected talent shortages. Contrary to common perception, 50+ workers do not cost significantly more than younger workers. The value older workers bring through higher engagement, more predictable turnover, and other factors may more than offset those costs.

Workers who are 50+ bring many desirable traits to the job, including: experience and engagement, maturity and professionalism, a strong work ethic, loyalty, reliability, knowledge and understanding, and the ability to serve as mentors. They are also less likely than younger workers to leave the job unexpectedly.

As our population has aged, so has the workforce. By 2012, 50+ workers were almost one-third of the workforce, whereas they were a quarter of the workforce just 10 years earlier.

The fact that so many older workers want viable work options later in life—either out of choice or necessity—will help employers, many of whom report having difficulty filling positions.

As an example, one out of five workers 50+ are caring for their parents or loved ones, and want flexible work options, such as telework, part-time work, flexible scheduling, or unpaid time off. When these employment options aren’t available, too often the employee leaves, or worse for the company, the employee stays but isn’t as engaged.

With companies employing three or four generations of workers, from 18 to 65+, company policies can no longer be “one size fits all”, but should adapt to the needs of a multigenerational workforce.

 

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