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Business is booming. Hiring, however, is not. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, and retirement looms for many of them. A Georgetown University study predicts that there will be well over 31 million job openings by 2020, leaving corporate America with a shortage of 5 million or more qualified workers.
Luckily for U.S. companies, the boomer generation is interested in sticking around. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that by 2022, nearly 42 million American workers aged 55 and older will still be employed. The number of workers aged 55 and older still on the job has increased by nearly 29% since 2012. Employment of workers aged 75 and older increased by 117% from 1994 to 2014.
Make no mistake: Veteran workers are staying on the job. That could be a real competitive advantage for a company like yours, particularly if you can recognize and harness the skills of your more senior workers. Here are a few ways to utilize the depth of knowledge your boomer-aged workers bring to the job.
1. Utilize their experience.
Older workers have amassed a wide network of connections and relationships built over multiple years and sometimes other positions. Plus, your older workers have a significant pool of expertise and could utilize that outside expertise to resolve your company’s pain points. Enlist their help to locate outside experts and vendors from their connections. And don’t forget to bring their knowledge into any problem-solving or tabletop exercises your company may be conducting.
2. Take advantage of their soft skills.
Data suggests that older workers have, by a significant percentage, earned bachelor’s degrees or higher — 28.8% of baby boomers. And another 28.9% have attended college to some extent. That, coupled with soft skills learned throughout a career — networking, sales, negotiation, relationship-building — can make for a powerful approach to business. Your veteran workers can work alongside younger employees to teach them the soft skills that might otherwise take them years to learn.
3. Have them mentor and collaborate with younger workers.
Older workers can help teach younger colleagues their work processes, networking methods and a host of other skills that typically are acquired from years of experience. Older workers are also highly engaged at work and adjust well to changing work environments, skills they can pass on to their younger colleagues.
Likewise, younger workers can share new technologies and methodology, and bring a new perspective to brainstorming sessions. The result is that your company gains a deeper pool of knowledge and a stronger team approach.
4. Let them set the example.
Use older workers’ strong work ethic as a motivator for all your employees. Create mixed-age teams, and let the older workers set the tone and example for others to follow.
Mature workers are used to solving problems under pressure, so they’re less likely to overreact when issues arise. Plus, your veteran workers are used to ferreting out the details — a trait they can pass on to all your employees by example.
In a competitive hiring environment, making the most of every employee’s skills is essential to a company’s success. By focusing on how you can capitalize on the skills of a veteran workforce, your company could see an improved knowledge base, a wider range of skills and talent, and an improved level of productivity among all your employees.
March 11, 2019 at 08:43AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs