This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

January 14, 2009

Older Workers Recognized as More Valuable

Employers are increasingly turning to older and previously retired workers for hard-to-fill positions for two reasons. First, they will do practically anything to reduce costs and second, employers, like most of us, are uncertain of the near-term future. We are already seeing an uptick in the number of special projects given to these seasoned employees.

The good news about hiring these folks is that onboarding and offboarding costs are nominal, and in many cases, benefits are not an issue either. "Many retired Boomers are simply looking for a supplement to their income to maintain their desired lifestyle, said Art Koff of Retired, a resource web site for seniors.

We have all seen the value of our financial assets plummet, while healthcare costs have continued to rise, seemingly exponentially. According to Koff, "At least one in four older Americans are either postponing their retirement or seeking to return to the workforce while four in ten employers have designed programs to encourage late-career workers to stay past their traditional retirement age."

Another interesting development is that valuable, long term employees have begun to leave for other jobs. These experienced, seasoned professionals in a wide variety of industries take their priceless corporate memories with them. Not only are their employers unprepared to lose these precious human resources, but the workers in many cases are irreplaceable---at any cost. The accounting and healthcare industries are particularly vulnerable.

Last fall, AARP's Chief People Officer, Ellie Hollander, sounded the warning that few employers recognized the effect of the exodus of intellectual capital they will suffer when boomers retire and take all their knowledge and experience with them. Studies conducted in the aerospace and manufacturing industries reinforce this fear.

As futurists, we have long touted the value of older workers, with their experience, stability, and wisdom. We have also said numerous times that employers must be more flexible with their older workers. Allowing greater flexibility in scheduling and work location will give employers a competitive edge in retaining these senior workers. Wise employers will conduct stay interviews to prevent untimely losses of these valuable human assets.

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