The Aging Workforce and Its Impact on the Job Market | DCR Workforce Blog

The Aging Workforce and Its Impact on the Job Market

Aging is a never-ending process, which starts with birth and never ends as long as there is a physical manifestation of the person (or thing) in question. So it’s the starting point that differs for each of us. Currently 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, and the number of Americans over 65 is expected to touch 21 percent from its current 15 percent, meaning 81.7 million people would be over 65 by 2050. Age alone cannot turn someone elderly into a “doddering old codger”. Intellectual curiosity is the primary requisite for anyone who wishes to avoid superannuation in this knowledge economy should they want to continue participating in the job market.

How does the market treat older workers in the workplace when they are over age 55 and have more than 25 years of work experience under their belt? The ability of knowledge workers to take up new opportunities and challenges with their accumulated wisdom, experience and networks should not underestimated. Many employers associate their older workforce with not only experience but also institutional knowledge and leadership. Then again, there are recruiters who insist on knowing the candidate’s year of graduation so as to estimate their age and discriminate against them if they exceed the expected age levels.

Opinions are necessarily subjective, so let’s look at what the reality says, loud and clear:

  • When senior employees leave, some critical skills will be lost forever, which may adversely affect the business’s performance. To avoid this, businesses could tempt the seniors to return on a full-time or part-time basis or even as consultants and independent contractors – further expanding the gig economy.
  • Most of the current retirees have no dependable Social Security or retirement funds which allow them to cope with the rising costs of living. Some of them have depended on the more risky option of 401(k) pensions, jeopardizing their ability to retire early. The stock downturn of 2000 and the financial crisis of 2008 have not helped the fortunes of many either.
  • Many are unwilling to call it a day and settle down to watch the sunset, with nothing to relieve the tedium and having nothing to occupy their time.
  • There is a need for more flexible workplaces and customized working conditions with telecommuting, job sharing, part-timing and other options offered to workers.
  • These workers are comfortable with the use of technology in their everyday lives and can make tablets, smart phones and smart TVs a part of their workday lives. We never know which “app” is being developed out there to revolutionize the entire process and offer new and innovative solutions to problems which currently seem insurmountable.
  • One of the ills of the current job market is the way the skills of the workers are failing to match up to the requirements of the numerous open positions. It may be necessary for some retired persons to learn new skills to find a job, if their earlier jobs have too many applicants ready to fill their shoes.
  • The mass exodus of retiring Baby Boomers could affect the workforce participation rate and thus the total economy of America.

The mismatch between available skills and required skills is bound to disrupt the job market in very big way in the near future and we can’t afford to lose access to existing talent because of a small detail like age. By not retaining or bringing retired workers into the workforce, businesses lose access to much-needed skills. They’re also creating wholly unwanted pressure on the well-being of the aging workforce as well as the economy itself, which is unable to cope with the needs of the social security system for funds. Even if we eliminate all altruistic motives and focus entirely on business outcomes alone, it must be recognized that aging people are far too valuable to be “retired.”

What is your strategy toward your aging workers?

The content on this blog is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for competent legal advice. They reflect the opinions of DCR Workforce and may not reflect the opinions of any individual attorney. Do contact an attorney for advice specific to your issue or problem.
Lalita is a people/project manager with extensive experience in operations, HCM and training and development across industries like banking, education, business consulting, BPO and information technology. She believes in a dynamic approach to life and learning as change is the only constant.