Embracing the Older Adult Workforce: The Untapped Potential of Older Workers

In an era of rapidly changing demographics and evolving workplace dynamics, a crucial segment of the workforce demands our attention – older workers. As we grapple with the challenges and opportunities presented by an aging population, it’s time to shed light on the immense value and untapped potential of this often-overlooked demographic.

Rising Numbers, Rising Opportunities

According to a study by Bain & Company, by 2030, older workers will fill an astounding 150 million jobs globally, exceeding a quarter of the workforce in high-income countries. This shift reflects a broader trend: fewer young people entering the workforce and a trend toward later retirement. In countries like Japan, Italy, and Germany, older workers are expected to make up around 30% to 40% of the workforce by the end of the decade. Even in nations like China and Brazil, the proportion of workers over 55 is noticeably increasing​​​​.

Busting Myths: The Reality of Older Workers

Contrary to prevalent myths, older workers are not a liability but an asset. The National Center for Productive Aging and Work underlines that older workers bring experience, know-how, reliability, work ethic, professionalism, and loyalty. Misconceptions such as older workers being frequently sick or less productive are countered by evidence showing their adaptability, safety-consciousness, and valuable contributions to organizational citizenship​​​​.

Legal and Policy Implications

Despite these positives, age discrimination remains a concern. A striking example is the recent case where pharmaceutical company Lilly USA agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit. This highlights the ongoing legal and ethical implications of not adequately integrating older workers into our workplaces​​.

The Business Case for Older Workers

The business case for hiring older workers is strong. Boston Consulting Group found that companies with diverse management teams, including age diversity, report significantly higher innovation revenue. Gary A. Officer, president and CEO of the Center for Workforce Inclusion, emphasizes the unique skills older workers bring, such as relationship building, negotiating, and leadership. These skills are increasingly vital in an era dominated by artificial intelligence and rapid technological advancement​​.

Strategies for Integration

To fully leverage the potential of older workers, companies need to rethink their recruitment and retention strategies. This involves offering flexibility, remote working opportunities, and considering the specific needs of older workers. Skills-based hiring, rather than focusing on age, can attract a diverse range of applicants with valuable experience. By embracing age diversity, companies not only foster a more inclusive culture but also enhance their performance and adaptability in a competitive market​​.

A Call to Action

As Elizabeth White, author and aging solutions advocate, aptly puts it, “We’re stuck in a time warp about what it means to be an older adult.” It’s time to change our framework and perception. With the right policies and attitudes, the older adult workforce can be a goldmine of talent and experience, ready to be tapped into for the betterment of our businesses and society at large​​.


This article is not just a call to action but a roadmap to embracing the full spectrum of workforce diversity. By valuing and integrating older workers, we not only address a pressing societal need but also unlock a wealth of knowledge, experience, and stability that can drive our businesses and economies forward. The future of work is not just about the young; it’s about the young at heart, the experienced, and the wise. Let’s build a workforce that truly reflects the richness and diversity of our society.

TL;DR: The article “Embracing the Older Adult Workforce: The Untapped Potential of Older Workers” highlights the increasing role of older workers in the global workforce, projected to fill 150 million jobs by 2030. It debunks myths about older workers, showing they bring valuable experience and adaptability to the workplace. Despite this, age discrimination remains a challenge, as seen in legal cases like Lilly USA’s $2.4 million settlement. Businesses benefit from diverse age representation, with evidence of higher innovation revenue in such companies. The article calls for a shift in recruitment and retention strategies to embrace older workers’ unique skills and needs, emphasizing the strategic advantages of an age-diverse workforce for business success and societal progress.

Sources:

  1. Bain & Company. (2023). Older workers will fill 150 million more jobs globally by 2030, exceeding a quarter of the workforce in high-income countries. Retrieved from https://www.bain.com.
  2. HR Dive. (2023). Employers in ‘time warp’ about older workers. Retrieved from https://www.hrdive.com/news/employers-in-time-warp-about-older-workers/697289/
  3. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). (2023). Clearing Up Myths About Older Workers While Understanding and Supporting an Aging Workforce. Retrieved from https://blogs.cdc.gov.
  4. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). (2023). Why Companies Should Hire Older Workers. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org.
  5. White, E. (2023). Remarks on older workers. Quoted in “Workforce equity: Employers stuck in ‘time warp’ about older workers”.
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Get timely and relevant industry news, research and articles delivered right to your inbox each month—exclusively for those caring for & engaging with older adults. 

Never miss an upcoming publication—drop your email below and subscribe to our Newsroom.

You might like these articles, too!

News Article
Patrice Woodard

Embracing the Future: Robotics Transforming Older Adult Care

Embracing the Future: The Role of Robotics in Transforming Older Adult Care In the quiet corridors of modern older adult care centers, an unusual staff member is making its rounds. It’s not a doctor, nurse, or traditional caregiver—it’s a robot. Armed with sensors, artificial intelligence, and even sometimes a tray

Read More »

Leave a Comment

Get Articles Like this Delivered to Your Inbox Every Month

Join over 2,000 readers and sign up to never miss an upcoming publication of Engaging with Aging publication.

We respect your privacy and will never rent or sell your information to third-parties.