Americans over the age of 55 have become the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace—while younger workers seek more convenient opportunities.
- A Paychex study found that one-in-six retirement-age Americans are considering returning to the workforce.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics is expecting the 55-to-70-aged population of workers to increase to 13 million by 2024.
- The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis reported in February that 32% of retirees have a job, compared to 31% of 16 to 19 year olds.
- Generational attitudes toward work have shifted, with 75% of 65-and-older Americans saying “hard work is very important,” compared to 61% of 18 to 29 year olds, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Why It’s Important
The COVID-19 pandemic, the gig economy, the “Great Resignation,” and the rise of remote work have changed the modern global economy. Even with widespread tech layoffs affecting multiple industries, Americans feel confident about their job prospects, with many thousands leaving solid jobs for seemingly greener pastures.
This has left many companies seeking older and more experienced employees as preferred candidates for sensitive positions that require consistency and a willingness to commit to working in an office environment. In a difficult economy, this situation benefits older Americans, as they are rapidly feeling the pinch of high inflation on their wallets and need to supplement their 401K or pensions with additional income.
Bill Walsh is a business strategist and the founder of PowerTeam International. He tells Leaders Media that as this workforce ages out in the coming years, companies will have to change to address the demands and needs of the younger generations who feel alienated.
“There’s going to be a point where companies are going to have to address salaries to lure more young people into trades and office works. Young people are not feeling drawn to these jobs. Employers need to be clear about what they have to offer that will give employees a plan for their careers, consistent raises, and bonuses. They may need to go to quarterly raises, especially if the companies are profitable,” says Walsh.
The younger generation has many benefits. They are more tech-savvy, flexible, and open-minded to new ideas and solutions. But they are also used to what Walsh calls “flex-work.” They have hundreds of opportunities for remote work, and modern job websites are constantly providing them with new job opportunities on a daily basis. They have the option and desire to leave whenever they feel.
Employee retention for the coming generations is going to become a significant issue for companies competing for talented and productive employees. Workplaces will need to create processes and programs that engage young people, meet their needs, and compete to keep them engaged and motivated to work in jobs and conditions that are generally undesirable for their generation.
“Companies have to become more innovative in hiring, employee retention, and creating social impact—not just paying attention to how much money they’re going to make,” says Walsh. “Some healthcare sales representatives are being started off at $90,000. Those are big numbers for someone just starting out, and they’re working to keep these employees around for as long as possible.”