To be competitive in today’s tight labor market, employers need to prioritize inclusivity. That means being inclusive of gender, race, sexuality—and age. The truth is, both the older members of Gen X and the youngest baby boomers are nearing retirement age. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less present in the workforce. Surprisingly, the population of older workers is surging around the world. Over the past two decades, workers 55 and older have almost doubled, increasing from 13% in 2000 to 23% in 2021.
Older employees in the workplace are valuable, contributing decades of experience and knowledge to your organization. Here’s what HR leaders and managers need to know about supporting this crucial talent.
People are staying in the workforce as they get older
The global workforce has experienced a number of changes in recent years, from the Great Resignation to quiet quitting to the recent wave of layoffs. While those trends come and go, one particularly enduring trend is likely to impact companies well into the future—an aging workforce. Workers 65 and older make up a larger share of the workforce than ever before. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, labor force participation for people 65 to 74 increased from 19.2% in 2000 to 26.6% in 2020. And by 2030, the number of people 75 and older in the labor force is projected to grow by 96.5%.
What’s causing this shift? Workers are retiring later overall, according to a recent Gallup poll, which showed the average retirement age increased from 57 years old in 1991 to 61 today. There are several why workers are staying in the workforce longer, including::
- Increased longevity: The population is living longer due to advances in technology and medicine, along with healthier lifestyles. Life expectancy at birth around the world has increased substantially over the last few decades, from 55.2 years in 1960 to 76.6 in 2021.
- Less federal support for the elderly: U.S. workers aren’t eligible to receive full social security benefits until age 65. And while pensions are still common in U.S. government jobs, they aren’t the norm in the private sector, leaving workers with less financial support as they get older.
- A rise in flexible jobs: As the economy changes, older people can find jobs that are less rigid than the work of previous generations, such as part-time, non-manual, and remote jobs. And flexible work can lead to higher well-being for older people. The Office of National Statistics in the U.K. found that one-third of workers aged 50 to 69 who worked from home reported a better work-life balance, better health, and fewer distractions.
As employee demographics change, so does what they want
For older workers, there’s more on their minds than retirement savings. Older workers today prioritize different things than the workforce of the past. They’re coping with the ramifications of the pandemic, dealing with economic uncertainty and rising inflation. Their compensation needs are more acute than in previous generations, and benefits are playing an outsized role in how employees are judging their workplaces. Here are some of the ways you can give your older employees what they want—and need.
Providing comprehensive benefits that can fit every stage of an employee’s life, from when they’re building their family to when they go through menopause, can be an essential way to attract and retain top talent. For older people, an age-inclusive office means creating space to be open about menopause, along with benefits that support them during this transitional period. Conversations about menopause, even in the medical community, remain somewhat rare, due to the stigma surrounding this natural phase of life, but the costs associated are high. Studies suggest that global productivity losses due to menopause could be as much as $150 billion annually, as women feel pressure to suffer in silence. To help your employees, consider offering benefits from vendors that offer holistic support specific to menopause. Maven provides access to a network of telehealth specialty care experts in menopause, including OB-GYNs, mental health professionals, and reproductive endocrinologists.
Mental health support
Older workers were likely raised in a time when conversations about mental health weren’t as open as they are today. Compounding the issue, during the pandemic, workers aged 40-59 were disproportionately affected by stress, anxiety, and PTSD. For HR leaders, providing more and better mental health support for the aging workforce can take many forms. For starters, companies can provide easy access to mental health professionals and clinically-vetted content to help older workers cope.
Retraining and career support
In order to be proactive, leading organizations are tapping into this talent pool and creating an updated idea of a “career path” that optimizes older workers’ skills and expertise. With this new, more flexible reframing of what a career can look like, companies are making room for a multi-generational workforce by incorporating options like retraining, flexible work, shortened work weeks, and sabbaticals into their offerings. Building an age-inclusive workplace includes making sure that older employees see a path forward both on their personal work journeys and in the organization. Access to career coaches can help your employees identify their strengths and weaknesses and create concrete goals. Additionally, you can train your managers to talk about aging and career paths at work in an inclusive and honest way so team members feel accepted and valued at any age.
How Maven helps you support your aging employees
By ensuring older workers have productive and evolving careers that span generations, companies can create more comprehensive strategies to engage their teams. With Maven, the leading digital family health solution, you can support your employees’ diverse reproductive and mental health needs through every phase of life. With our comprehensive offering, members have access to unlimited virtual support from experts in menopause, mental health, and more, along with provider-led classes, clinically-vetted content, and expense management and reimbursement. To learn more about how Maven can be there for your employees as they get older, schedule a demo today.
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