Generational diversity – strategies for the ageing workforce

The number of people in the UK employed over the age of 65 has reached the one million mark.The demographics of the ageing population are astonishing.  Today, the median age (where half the population is older; half younger) of the world population is 28.  By 2050 the median age in Europe will be 47 and 22% of the world population will be over 60.A report by organisational development experts Talentsmoothie explores the implications of the ageing population for businesses.‘A new career stage'In the UK, the number of working pensioners increased by 85% between 1993 and 2011.  Employees now have the right to work beyond statutory retirement age - many of them want to do so, or are forced to do so by economic circumstance.  This ‘extended career' stage is currently not being managed by employers and the report calls for organisations to focus on proactively managing this career stage - beginning well before statutory retirement age.  65% of organisations participating in the research said they were ‘reactive' rather than proactive when it comes to discussing retirement with employees.Similarly, employees are often not keen to raise the issue, fearing that raising their concerns will ‘rock the boat' and trigger redundancy.Skills gapsOver the next ten years, the UK (and many other countries) will experience skills shortages.  Research from a number of sources, including CIPD and McKinsey, predicts skills gaps and a shortage of school- and college-leavers to fill vacancies.The report describes older employees as a ‘hidden talent pool'.  In the UK organisations such as DIY chain B&Q and building society Nationwide have made a positive effort to employ and keep older workers on board.  The benefits they have reported include reduced employee turnover, improved customer service and increased profitability.  In Japan, Toyota is addressing the ‘knowledge drain' of retired employees by re-recruiting them to work part-time.Generational diversityThe oldest Gen-Z youngsters are already 18!  As they begin to join the workforce we will have an increase in the number of ‘five-generation' workplaces.  Employers need to understand the generational diversity of their customer base and their workforce.  They need to develop policies and working environments that maximise the benefits of multi-generational organisations.And all of us should overcome our fears of discussing ‘the R-word' - retirement!