"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much"Hellen Keller

"Competition makes us faster; Collaboration makes us better"Firefly

"Every collaboration helps you grow"Brian Eno

"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself"Henry Ford

Time to engage older employees and build a more competitive edge in business


by Karen Pearson

Time to engage older employees and build a more competitive edge in business

Our workplaces are drastically changing and, for organisations to keep ahead of the game and achieve and maintain a competitive advantage, we need to embrace a diverse workforce.

We are now at a time within the history of work where we may have 7 decades of workers at any one time within an organisation.  We are living longer – hooray, but we are having to work longer.

This is at a time where we have a mental health crisis, an increase of disengagement and unhappiness within the workplace due to being overworked and undervalued, good pensions diminishing and a government drive to extend working lives. 

So how can we start enjoying our working life – whether that is at 18 or at 65?  How can we gain that good day at work? 

Changing our mind-set

A good starting point may be to change our mind-set around older workers. There seems to be a negativity within some organisations and society itself around older workers.  It is seen as a burden by organisations to manage older workers more effectively, due to the fact there is no clearly defined retirement age in place. In the past this would have been neatly managed under performance out of the organisation.

But shouldn’t we be embracing this diversity that we now have within our organisations? Surely we need to be gaining as much benefit from this wide-ranging experience and skill set that we can.

Competitive edge

Creating an inclusive culture within organisations is a big opportunity for companies that are looking to maintain and develop their competitive edge.  By investing and valuing all of your employees, whether they are younger or older, delivers such an impact to the working environment.  Older workers have such a vital role to play.

As Dr Chris Ball put forward: “Many studies have shown that older workers are generally more engaged, more committed to their organisations than younger workers and experience higher job satisfaction”.  Obviously, this is a generalisation but this statement is backed up by statistical evidence.

However, more recent studies have indicated a reduction in engagement as a result of the deterioration of the quality of working lives that are being experienced by older workers.

So, we now have a new challenge within our workplaces.  How can we engage our older workers once more in order to create a productive and positive workplace for all?

As a starting point think about the following:

  • Senior management, HR and managers need to be united and work together to ensure training opportunities are in place for older workers as well as the rest of the workforce
  • Skills and knowledge of older workers need to be fully understood and promoted throughout the organisation
  • Embrace diversity by introducing initiatives such as an internal mentoring scheme where experienced workers support young workers coming into the organisation
  • Ensure older workers alongside all employees have access to wellbeing and counselling services with policies that support the challenges that may come up in life e.g. health and caring responsibilities Most importantly we need to recognise that no matter what age, gender or ethnicity, creating an inclusive environment results in a positive, productive and collaborative workplace which research shows us is good for business.