Our Graying Population and Its Effects on the Workplace

The prime workforce segment demographic is said to be those between the ages of 20 and 64, according to the Denver Post. But as our population gets older, and an increasingly larger percentage of the population is 65 and over, what effects will it have on the workplace — especially considering that age bias is a frequent concern in today’s economy?

The baby boomer generation has expressed plans to continue working beyond age 65, and in order to meet workforce demands, companies will need to adapt and readily hire workers beyond retirement age. Some may opt to retire, leaving openings for younger workers, but some may choose to return to the workforce part-time or in a consulting role.

The resulting trend could, in fact, make our industries smarter. Retired workers bring years of experience and knowledge that younger workers fresh out of college can’t match. The benefit of a culture in which older, more experienced workers work side-by-side with college graduates is maximum efficiency: combining expertise with stamina.Seniors in the workforce

In addition, those who choose to continue working beyond retirement age have the benefit of staying sharp cognitively (and physically), which has been linked to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The trend towards an aging yet active population has led to a rise in the number of independent living communities, which are ideal for seniors who want to downsize yet remain active and independent, even holding jobs and serving the community in various capacities.

Overcoming Barriers to an Older Workforce

In the current economic crisis, many older workers who have been laid off have found it difficult to find work. The surplus of available talent means that companies have a wide selection from which to choose, and many opt to hire younger employees. Older workers are weighed down by the misconception that they’re not seeking long-term arrangements, because they’ll be choosing to retire in a few short years, whereas new college grads have decades of working years ahead of them.

The fact is that many younger workers only stay with a company for a few short years before moving on, but older workers have a strong work ethic and sense of loyalty. While it’s true that some older workers have less working years left in them, their experience can be valuable for training younger talent — and possibly instilling some of that sense of loyalty that some say is missing from the younger workforce.

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