On our Facebook and LinkedIn pages we have posted articles pertaining to the workplace. This week’s article was a report recently compiled by Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, Employment and Disability Institute in coordination with Rutgers University and The State University of New Jersey to look at the impact of an aging workforce will have on employees with disabilities in the workplace.
The findings about the aging workforce are staggering. Almost half of those employed (based on the 2010 U. S. Labor Statistics) are 55 or over, and by 2020, 40% of the workforce will be leaving the workforce. Organizations now are beginning to feel the effects of this problem as baby boomers are starting to leave and retire.
The dynamics of this is causing some employers to re-think about their strategies for job retention because of the potential loss of knowledge and expertise. Most baby boomers do not change jobs as often as their counterparts in other generations. For example, baby boomers have 4-6 jobs during their work life while Generation Y (15-29 year olds) will change jobs every one to two years. At the same time, the report also said most employers know about this problem but are not doing anything out of the ordinary to plan for the “brain drain” as the report called it.
The report also cited some stereotypes some employers had of older workers which is somewhat surprising since some of the traits are also complaints we have heard from groups we have worked with about younger workers, too. Examples of these are not as productive, unwilling to learn new technology or make changes in their job. On the other hand, many employers also recognized the positive traits older workers have that can help workplaces. These included experience, knowledge, positive work ethic, and quality of work. Again, some of these traits can be found in younger workers.
In relationship to these stereotypes, we have always taught in our trainings, it is not good to be judgmental but to have an open mind about people and their ideas. It doesn’t matter about a person’s age, gender, race, ethnicity or any other distinguishing feature, it’s about what they bring to the process as far as ideas, experience and how we relate to it.
In addition, the report provided some recommendations to employers to help this critical situation. Some of the recommendations are what we have highlighted in our blogs. The recommendations include conducting a workplace assessment, focus on employee engagement, address skill shortages, address technology changes, health and wellness issues, flexible workplaces, employee input in schedules and other workplace decisions and many other things ALL workers, regardless of age, would like as well.
Read the report. It’s worth reading but think about it as how to turn your workplace into a place everybody wants to work at and doesn’t want to leave. Recognize ALL people as individuals and the ideas each and every person brings to the workplace.