10 Key Points on Training the Aging Workforce

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Dr. Purushothaman
September 9, 2013

Will baby boomers retire at 60? Will there be a massive employee shortage in a few years? What can companies and government agencies do? This is a very important topic, given demographic trends worldwide. Let me provide an overview of these 10 points.

1) The Conference Board published a good report in 2005 titled America's Aging Workforce Posing New Opportunities and Challenges. Quotes:

"Some 64 million baby boomers (over 40 per cent of the U.S. labour force) are poised to retire in large numbers by the end of this decade. In industries already facing labour and skills shortages, forward-thinking companies are recruiting, retaining, and developing flexible work-time arrangements and/or phased retirement plans for these workers (55 years of age or older), many of whom have skills that are difficult to replace. Such actions are putting these companies ahead of competitors who view the ageing workforce largely as a burden putting strains on pension plans and healthcare costs."

"More older workers want to remain in their jobs for both personal fulfilment and financial reasons. In a related forthcoming study from The Conference Board, more than half (55 per cent) of older employees surveyed said they were not planning to retire because they find their jobs interesting. Significantly, 74 per cent also cited not having sufficient financial resources as a reason they were continuing to work, and 60 per cent cited the need for medical benefits."

Not only in the US: the largest single group within the UK workforce in 2006 was comprised of people between 45 and 59.

2) Some consulting companies like Accenture seem to be betting that the solution will be to improve technology for knowledge transfer and train younger employees as soon as possible.

3) And the market for Talent Management and Succession Planning solutions such as Taleo (whose VP of Research led us to some of these reports) has been growing steadily and has more room to grow.

4) Preparing for an Aging Workforce: A Focus on New York Businesses is a survey of 400 HR managers sponsored by AARP. One interesting tidbit I found in the report: when asked about "Strategies to help employees work past traditional retirement age", the top answer was "Training to Upgrade Skills (out of 8 such as "easing into the retirement" or "working part-time").

5) In the Talent-Shortage Myth article, Workforce Management editor John Hollon he tries to debunk the myth of a massive, simultaneous worker shortage, highlighting that many baby boomers will want to remain in the workforce for many more years.

6) Many people are asking "Does your organization have-or need-a baby boomer exit strategy?"

7) Companies need a comprehensive strategy, more than a baby boomer "exit" strategy: hiring and training younger employees, ensure knowledge transfer, manage talent and succession planning, AND training baby boomers who want to stay. I tend to agree with John Hollon that there won't be a massive shortage. Many baby boomers will want to and need to, keep working. But it will be important for sectors like government, communications, energy, utilities, to manage their workforce of people over 50 and ensure flexible and appropriate workplace arrangements, and start planning now for those arrangements.

8) An important component of that strategy, that seems to be overlooked so far, is how to Train those Employees to ensure maximum Productivity and Health. We have been discussing the growing research behind brain fitness and cognitive training and the increasing number of tools. Won't companies incorporate them in their Corporate Training initiatives? won't an employee with top attention span, processing speed, memory and executive functions be in a better position to keep adding value, to be more healthy and productive?

9) Which is why we have started to help educate companies and professionals with articles such as Ten Important Truths About Aging: How we age is at least partially under our control, By Elkhonon Goldberg and Alvaro Fernandez, published in The Complete Lawyer.

10) At a glance, those Ten Truths are:

- Neuropsychology Indicates That We Can Control Our Aging

- Aging Means Lifelong Development, Not Automatic Decline

- Some Skills Improve With Age

- Some Skills Need To Be Continuously Nurtured And Trained

- Not All Instances Of Forgetting Are Of Equal Concern

- We Are In Control, To A Large Extent

- There Are Four "Pillars Of Brain Health"

- Cross-Training Our Brains Builds Up Cognitive Reserve

- Computer-Based Brain Exercise Programs Can Help

- Embrace "Good" Stress; Eliminate "Bad" Stress

- Retirement Is Overrated

So, let me ask, does your organization have-or need-a comprehensive baby boomer strategy? Does that strategy include a Brain Fitness Training component? Is your HR department taking proactive steps in this area?

Copyright (c) 2007 SharpBrains

Will most baby boomers retire at 60? Will there be a massive employee shortage in a few years' time, as predicted in a number of major policy reports? What can companies and government agencies do? This is a very important topic, given demographic trends worldwide. Here we provide a summary of 10 key Trends and Recommendations.

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