There’s no question that the world of work looks quite different than it did just a decade ago. The digital revolution has meant that increasingly large sectors of the workforce have transitioned to virtual office spaces. The breathtaking speed of innovation has required workers to acquire a host of new skills in order to remain relevant and useful in the rapidly-evolving global economy.
But it’s not only how and where we work that has changed. Perhaps the greatest changes in the modern workplace involve who is working. Now more than ever, the labor force is populated not by young upstarts fresh out of college, but by aging workers, including seniors who have delayed retirement by choice or because of financial necessity.
Indeed, the modern workforce is increasingly a silver one, but that does not mean that older workers do not need a bit of support to help them thrive in the new business landscape. This article describes strategies employers, recruiters, and workers can use to empower older workers for the new world of work.
Far and away one of the best strategies for empowering older workers lies in ensuring that their skill sets are relevant in the modern era. This includes ensuring that senior employees understand both how the customer behavior has evolved and what tools are needed to respond to that behavioral change.
For example, the power of both digital marketing and social media marketing have increased exponentially in recent years. Indeed, it appears as if the future of marketing rests in social media, meaning that it is incumbent upon older workers to learn to leverage these powerful platforms if they want to galvanize business growth.
This will require employees who may have had little or no experience with social media to acquire the skills needed to thrive across multiple platforms. They may receive training, for instance, in video editing in order to prepare digital marketing materials for YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram.
Or they may take a course in written communications to help them build a more robust and positive presence on social media discussion forums.
To be sure, a lot of workers find great satisfaction in their jobs. Their careers give them a sense of purpose that they’re not willing to give up. For many, however, the decision to delay retirement is a matter of financial necessity. Increasing economic volatility worldwide, combined with shrinking retirement accounts, has led large sectors of the workforce to rethink their retirement plans.
Thus, empowering older workers for the modern workforce means taking stock of the new financial realities in which we find ourselves. Providing employees, regardless of where they are in their careers, with services to support financial literacy and retirement planning will be a tremendous benefit for your workforce. For older employees, however, developing the tools they need to live well in retirement is an urgent concern. Without such resources, older workers may find themselves faced with a painful dilemma: deciding whether to continue working even if it compromises their health, or deciding to retire and contend with financial uncertainty and insecurity.
When it comes to empowering older workers, it’s critically important to learn to recognize the unique value that an experienced employee brings to an organization. Workers who are well-established in their careers have earned a lot of intellectual capital, assets that cannot be easily duplicated.
Once older workers learn to appreciate and articulate the substantial and irreplaceable benefits they bring to the company, the better able they will be to advocate for their needs in the workplace. In the modern workplace, for example, employers are increasingly willing to offer significant benefits to valuable and valued employees.
This might include, for example, the provision of flex time and remote work opportunities for older workers who would benefit mentally, physically, and/or financially, from working at home. Experienced employees may also pursue promotions and special project opportunities through which they could leverage their vast and varied skill sets. Not only would this increase the employee’s prestige within the company, but it may afford them additional rewards, such as bonus pay or industry-wide recognition.
It’s easy to believe the myth that the world of work belongs to the young generation, to the fresh-faced youth who are energetic and hungry. But older workers have talents to offer that more inexperienced staff, for all their education and eagerness, simply can’t replicate. Nevertheless, if you want to ensure that older workers thrive in the modern workforce, then support is needed. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable of workers, for example, will need to pursue continuous training if they’re to remain professionally relevant. It’s also critical that older workers learn to be their own best self-advocate. Finally, it’s essential to ensure that employees of every age develop the financial literacy they need to live well in retirement.