Five ways to… manage an age-diverse workforce
01 Address the myths
Stereotypical thinking about age and what people can or can’t do influences the way people at work are managed and the way people themselves behave. It is essential to make sure that stereotypical age-based assumptions — such as people being less motivated to work or too inflexible, are unproductive because of health and performance or unwilling to train and develop further as needed — do not stop the good management of people and their full participation at work.
02 Remember everyone’s different
That said, managers should always remember that everyone is different. While the trends are for delaying retirement, plenty of others can’t wait to go! There should be open and regular discussion between older workers and managers, either about aspirations to extend working life or possible diverse retirement options.
03 Build the business case
Over the next 10 years competition for talent will intensify as the population and the workforce ages and the supply of potential young entrants shrinks. You need to prepare your business to make the best use of the diverse group of skilled people. The first step is building a business case. Older workers have made their mistakes and successes and know what works.
04 What older workers bring
Their experience and knowledge is often invaluable. Their network of contacts have often taken years to build and are difficult to replace. This knowledge can be captured by an organisation, through mentoring younger workers. Older workers can offer flexibility too in tough times. Often older workers are keen to gradually reduce their working hours. Phased retirement is a bonus too for the organisation as they enable the employer to retain critical skills at reduced cost.
05 Measure success
Organisations need to decide what indicators to use and measure the impact of change — and one that should be rooted in the business case. It’s essential to keep a note of what changes the organisation is making and how it is helping to improve business performance and the recruitment and retention of older workers. And keep the practices under review.
This advice is taken from a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: Managing a Healthy Ageing Workforce: A National Business Imperative