With so much attention given to millennials in the work place these days, it’s easy to forget that they still only make up about 36% of the workforce.
Yes their influence, both socially and structurally, is changing the ways we do business, but it’s important not to discount the very relevant contributions that older workers are also making. And with more Baby Boomers opting to delay retirement, sometimes indefinitely, they aren’t going anywhere soon. The latest data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that their numbers are only growing. By 2022, workers aged 55 and older will make up 26.5% of the labor force, a larger share than ever before.
And this is a good thing. By choosing to remain vital and engaged in their careers, they’re busting down tired old stereotypes of older adults spending their “golden years” in retirement communities or in a rocking chair on the porch. Plus, older workers add a much needed gravitas to a business. Here are some of the important ways in which they benefit the workplace.
Unlike generations past, workers today can expect to work for many different companies during their career. In some ways, this is good thing. Most people don’t necessarily want to be stuck at the same job, or even the same career, for their entire lives. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for finding a cause that you truly believe in and investing in its success. This is a much different idea than investing primarily in your own success – something that many older workers understand the value of inherently.
Old Fashioned Communication
There’s something to be said for old school communication. As fast and convenient as texting, chatting and telecommuting might be, there’s always something vital that gets lost in translation. It’s easy to overlook the human elements of a person when you’re not face to face. This is why so many older workers feel more comfortable talking in person. And they can teach the younger workers a thing or two about how to say something diplomatically, when to say it, and when to shut up.
If you’ve been around the block a few times, you’ve likely amassed a few friends and acquaintances. An older worker with a strong network can be an invaluable resource to a company, especially one with a younger and inexperienced work force.
Many older workers aren’t used to the kind of distractions that are so common with younger workers today. Between texting, chatting and all of the online diversions competing for an employee’s attentions, it’s amazing that any real work gets done at all. While younger workers might get their work done in fragments, older workers can often be counted on to produce focused, attentive and detail oriented work that is reliably on-time and with fewer errors.
While younger workers bring much needed energy and new ideas to a workplace, older workers bring things that are equally as valuable – experience, wisdom and perspective. These qualities often get dismissed in the excitement of progress. But as history shows, progress without perspective can lead us down a perilous road.