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4 ways older workers help businesses thrive in uncertain times

4 ways older workers help businesses thrive in uncertain times
(Image credit: AARP)

This post is sponsored by AARP Work Reimagined

When a crisis arises, it is natural to seek guidance from people who have lived through it and thrived despite difficulty. Businesses with employees who have successfully navigated wartime, recessions, natural disasters and the like provide reliability, focus and calm when business is upended – and the recent COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Research shows that a multigenerational staff working together yields the best results in innovation, creativity and profitability.

That is why it makes sense for businesses to focus on retaining and recruiting older workers especially during times of fear and uncertainty. Their presence brings these benefits to your workplace:

Motivation & Engagement. The Gallup Inc. report, Engagement at Work: Its Effect on Performance Continues in Tough Economic Times, found that team members who are over 55 are more engaged and motivated, and that teams with better engagement are 22% more profitable. That’s a major upside for employers of any size.

Productivity. A workforce that includes older workers is 21% more productive, according to the Gallup data. A landmark study from the Max Planck institute, Hundred Days of Cognitive Training Enhance Broad Cognitive Abilities in Adulthood: Findings from the COGITO Study, bears that out, documenting that older workers produce more consistent and accurate work. Multigenerational teams’ higher output and quality are especially important for companies working with reduced headcounts and adjusted budgets.

Reliability. The Gallup research notes that workplaces with members 55 and older experience 37% less absenteeism and turnover. Seasoned employees often work longer – the median tenure for workers 55 to 64 is 10.1 years – and are unlikely to cause unexpected turnover. That’s crucial for increasing cost efficiency. Reducing absenteeism and turnover of just one employee can save a business between $7,400 to $31,700 depending on the job and industry.

Perspective. There’s evidence that a variety of life and work experiences, cultural backgrounds and other aspects produce better decision-making and business outcomes. Yet age is an often-overlooked aspect of diversity and inclusion. Adding age as a criteria allows you to access older adults’ valuable perspectives and – since a large segment of the consumer population is over 50 – potentially create a competitive market advantage.

Retiring at 65 is an arbitrary timeframe, not a requirement. And it prompts us to unnecessarily rule out older adults as productive, valuable members of the workforce.

Employers who forgo hiring older workers and who don’t invest in retaining them miss out on valuable insight, experience and loyalty – all factors that drive operational efficiency and financial performance. Now is the time to invest in retention strategies to hold on to older workers and to tailor recruitment activities to specifically attract older applicants. These are two smart tactics to boost your overall business performance.

Learn more about the value of hiring older adults and find experienced workers interested in working at organizations like yours.

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