Article: Silver and wise: How retirement-age workers find fulfillment in continued employment

Life @ Work

Silver and wise: How retirement-age workers find fulfillment in continued employment

Who says retirement is the only golden opportunity? Retirement-age workers are defying expectations of longevity.
Silver and wise: How retirement-age workers find fulfillment in continued employment

As the clock ticks towards the year 2030, a significant shift is on the horizon. The Baby Boomer generation, encompassing 75 million individuals, will be bidding farewell to their careers and embracing retirement.

The impending departure of this formidable workforce has left employers grappling with a crucial concern – how to prepare for the imminent gap.

Organisations find themselves in a race against time, seeking effective strategies to retain retirement-age workers. The objective? To avoid worker shortages and make the most out of the experience and knowledge of seasoned members of the workforce

A new study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology sheds light on a promising solution: engaging retirement-eligible workers through training. The findings reveal that older workers who possess a drive for personal and professional growth – combined with an organisational culture that encourages learning and development – are more likely to stay on even as they hit their retirement years.

In the past, senior-age workers were often seen remaining with an organisation purportedly because of their attachment to the workplace. Yixuan Li, Assistant Professor of Management at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, however challenges this notion.

"Once reaching the retirement age, older workers can also choose to exit the workforce and engage in social activities outside the workplace," Li said.

READ MORE | The 'worn-out syndrome': Stereotypes influence senior employees' retirement decisions

To retain retirement-eligible workers, employers must move beyond creating pleasant social experiences and instead invest in their older workforce, providing opportunities for growth and motivation.

Another significant factor that influences the decision of older workers to continue working is the presence of an age-inclusive environment. In such an environment, employees continue to be valued for their contribution, irrespective of their age.

Li highlights the barriers faced by older workers when it comes to training participation, owing to age-related stereotypes. "An age-inclusive work environment treats employees of different ages in an equal and inclusive manner, mitigating such stereotypes and removing barriers for older workers to participate in training programs," Li said.

Armed with these insights, the researchers proposed three key recommendations for managers keen on retaining their older workforce.

1) Training

Older workers often feel discouraged due to skill depreciation resulting from technological advancements and a lack of investment in their professional development. By removing these barriers and providing learning opportunities, employers can extend the tenure of their older employees.

2) Fostering learning among older workers

HR plays a pivotal role in achieving this. Consistent messaging on the significance of training and development can enhance the visibility of and access to such opportunities, effectively encouraging engagement.

3) Promoting age-inclusivity and fair treatment across all age groups

Their findings indicate that an age-inclusive environment can significantly influence the decision of retirement-age workers to continue working. To foster age-inclusive practices, employers can involve age-diverse employees in decision-making processes, embrace employee differences, and ensure equitable employment practices.

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Topics: Life @ Work, Diversity, Culture

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