Graying of the Workforce: Empowering Seniors with the Tools that Make Them Successful
Since America’s founding, the U.S. workforce has been in a perpetual state of change driven by territorial expansion, a growing population, waves of immigration, and ongoing innovation. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation, a combination of social, economic, and biological factors had been transforming the workforce yet again.
Seniors are providing businesses across the country with an untapped—or maybe more accurately described as “re-tapped”—experienced and responsible talent pool. How “seniors” are classified varies: For some, it’s people 65 and older; for others, it’s the age at which AARP starts accepting members; while some think of the Baby Boomer generation. Regardless of how they’re classified, their impact on the human capital management (HCM) profession is significant and growing.
According to current U.S. Census data, the percentage of the U.S. population 55 and older has grown significantly in the last 16 years: from 21 percent in 2000, to 24.9 in 2010, and 27.6 percent in 2016. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the population ages 16 to 24 is expected to shrink by 1.4 percent over the same time period. According to the CDC, the average American life expectancy is increasing, and many may not have the adequate retirement nest egg set aside to allow them to live comfortably through a non-work retirement. HR professionals trying to train and manage dynamic workforce requirements welcome senior availability in their talent pools.
This rising trend is observable in a range of industries, including retail, food service, and hospitality, where the distinguished faces of experienced workers are replacing fresh-faced teenagers. While each generation of workers has strengths and weaknesses, seniors often bring to the workplace traditional work values that include punctuality, attention to detail, and problem-solving skills that were learned over decades of work experience. And while not immune to them, seniors are far less apt to be distracted by social media, school, or friends.
Training and scheduling seniors can offer HCM managers a wide range of advantages, including greater flexibility and more availability for part-time shifts. Businesses looking to successfully maximize the effectiveness of seniors as a growing portion of the workforce should integrate the following attributes into scheduling platforms:
Flexibility: According to data from Pew Research, 4 in 10 seniors now own smartphones, up from just 18 percent in 2013. Today, approximately 67 percent of adults ages 65 and older are using the Internet for a variety of activities, including connecting with their friends and family, navigation, online shopping, and entertainment. Cloud-based scheduling gives seniors the flexibility and freedom to communicate, control, and adjust their schedules directly from their smartphones and tablets. Having the flexibility to select specific times that best match their personal schedules, put in vacation requests, and more—all in one simple platform—allows them to put their best foot forward and stay productive in the workplace.
Ease of Use: While data from Pew Research states that only 26 percent of Internet users ages 65 and over say they feel very confident when using smartphones and other electronic devices, a focus group study finds that most seniors are eager to adopt new technology and are willing to learn more. Instead of having to hunt down and keep careful track of outdated handwritten schedules and spreadsheets, advanced smart-scheduling features allow seniors to have full access to their schedules and easily receive updates in real time—all in one easy-to-use platform. With the reduction of scheduling errors, potential shift conflicts, and overworked seniors, cloud-based scheduling gives both seniors and their managers the peace of mind they need to do their jobs accurately.
Consistency: Consistency is key. According to a WebMD study, having routines helps seniors sleep better, which not only contributes to their overall health, but also increases feelings of safety and security. Having to constantly track and remember changing handwritten schedules and spreadsheets can cause frustration, stress, and confusion. Cloud-based scheduling allows seniors to consistently and seamlessly control their schedule and communicate requests and concerns.
Seniors bring a brand-new wave of talent as they re-enter the workforce, so it is essential for employers to recognize the needs and motivations that drive them. By providing the tools that cater to their work styles, employers gain not only the experience seniors can bring but ultimately happier customers and an improved bottom line.
As a leading executive in the employee management software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, Chris Amani brings a deep portfolio of strategic management, operations, and leadership experience to the Humanity team, overseeing all corporate operations and developments. Prior to serving as CEO, Amani played an instrumental role in Humanity’s growth and establishing its market position to date, serving as chief operating officer, vice president of growth and operations, and head of finance and analytics over the last five years.