Organizations that actively leverage their older, experienced workforce* will be best positioned for the future of work, according to Mercer’s recently published report, “Next Stage: Are You Age-Ready?”. The importance of being “age-ready” is underscored for both businesses and economies by the impact of the twin forces of a rapidly-aging labor force coupled with an uncertain global economic growth rate1.
“With labor force size, participation rate and productivity so closely tied to business and economic growth, the experienced workforce is a source of talent and competitive advantage that employers need to embrace now,” said Pat Milligan, Senior Partner and Global Leader of Mercer’s Multinational Client Group. “To be ‘age-ready’, however, requires a thoughtful and careful analysis of this workforce segment as well as a change in mindset as to how experienced workers truly add value to organizations.”
Through its work with clients around the world, Mercer has identified a number of ways experienced workers contribute value, often well beyond the traditional measures of individual performance tracked by most employers.
Mercer finds experienced workers are particularly valuable to employers in that they often:
- Lower costs because they are less likely to leave
- As supervisors, tend to retain, develop and engage more junior employees and decrease voluntary leave on the teams they manage
- Increase productivity of those around them through knowledge sharing
- Strengthen group cohesion, collaboration and resiliency
- Enable innovation and strengthen customer connection
Yet for many employers, experienced workers are largely ignored or misperceived in their strategic workforce plans. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Future of Jobs report, only 4% of respondents said they planned on investing in experienced workers as part of their workforce strategy 2.
This urgency for employers to address their experienced worker strategy is heightened by global demographic trends: by 2040 the average life expectancy is predicted to be 80 years, up from 56 in 1966 and 72 in 2016 3. As a result, many people are working longer for a variety of reasons, including financial necessity, purpose, and social/intellectual engagement.
“For employers, managing a rapidly growing older workforce is a challenge without precedent,” said Rick Guzzo, Partner and co-Founder of Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute. “In the US rates of working among older individuals have been rising and will continue to rise, with the highest growth rates among those aged 70-74 and 75-79. Given this reality, organizations that are more ‘age-ready’ than their competitors will likely have a significant strategic advantage.”
To assist organizations in becoming ‘age-ready’, Mercer has developed a list of 10 ways to optimize an experienced workforce (Exhibit 1). This list is intended as a starting point to begin the organizational dialogue about the future of work as it relates to tapping this important and growing talent pool.
To download a complimentary copy of Mercer’s “Next Stage: Are You Age-Ready?” report or to contact a member of Mercer’s Experienced Workforce Team, please visit https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/next-stage-are-you-age-ready.html
*Mercer defines experienced workers as those age 50 years and older.
Exhibit 1: Mercer’s List of 10 Ways to Optimize an Experienced Workforce
- Collect and analyze your age-profile data to explore demographic and skills pinch points.
- Develop and implement people and careers strategies that embrace the experienced workforce.
- Understand what impact your organization’s retirement plan design has on the trajectory of retirement readiness and labor flow.
- Initiate conversations with experienced employees about how they might work differently.
- Examine and tackle how ageism might manifest in your organization — analyzing pay, bonuses, performance, promotion and recruitment statistics through a lens focused on aging.
- Develop a lifelong learning attitude that positions people to embrace jobs of the future.
- Measure productivity levels across different age and position cohorts in your organization.
- Implement an effective flexible-working strategy.
- Develop and implement a program offering support for those who have caregiver responsibilities.
- Create and sustain an inclusive culture that supports and enables your experienced-worker strategy.
1 – OECD, Composite leading indicator (CLI), 2019 available at https://data.oecd.org/leadind/composite-leading-indicator-cli.htm
2 - World Economic Forum. The Future of Jobs Report, 2016, available at http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/.
3 – The World Bank, “Life Expectancy at Birth, Total (Years),” available at https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.LE00.IN.
Mercer delivers advice and technology-driven solutions that help organizations meet the health, wealth and career needs of a changing workforce. Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people with 76,000 colleagues and annualized revenue approaching $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.