As the American workforce continues to age, it’s crucial for businesses to understand the trends, challenges and opportunities associated with an aging workforce. Embracing age diversity can not only help address the growing worker shortage but also bring numerous benefits to employers, including the closing of the skills gap through the hiring of talented, aging workers. 

In this blog, we will explore why America’s workforce is aging, retirement rate trends, the benefits of hiring older workers, and much more. This information can play a vital role in setting your workforce strategy for the remainder of the year — and for years to come. 

Why Is America’s Workforce Aging? 

America’s workforce is experiencing rapid aging due to several factors. Longer life expectancies, improved healthcare, and financial considerations have contributed to a larger number of older adults choosing to remain in the workforce. The baby boomer generation, which accounts for roughly 25% of America’s workforce (or 41 Million workers), is reaching retirement age, playing a significant role in the aging workforce trend.

Additionally, there was a steep drop in participation among 16- to 24-year-old workers (66% to 56%) during and post-pandemic, as young people increasingly pursued schooling rather than employment.

The Increasing Number of Older Adults in the Workforce

The U.S. Senate recently created a Special Committee on Aging, which has released some interesting information: “In 2000, 12.5 percent of those over 65 were working; by 2016, that share had increased to 18.6 percent. Moreover, while the labor force as a whole is projected to grow by an average of just 0.6 percent per year between 2016 and 2026, the number of workers ages 65 to 74 is projected to grow by 4.2 percent annually, and the number of workers aged 75 and above by 6.7 percent annually.”

Retirement Rate Trends

As mentioned above, research indicates that a rising share of older U.S. adults is opting to continue working, driven by various factors such as financial security, personal fulfillment and the desire to remain active and engaged.

According to a 2022 Gallup Poll, “the average retirement age in the United States is 61. In 1991, the average retirement age in the U.S. was 57; in 2002, it was 59. According to the poll, people still working in 2022 expect to retire at 66 on average.” 

This trend provides a significant opportunity for businesses to tap into a valuable talent pool and bridge the worker shortage. 

The Benefits of Hiring Older Workers, Especially During a Worker Shortage

Hiring older workers can provide numerous benefits, particularly during a worker shortage. Older workers often bring a wealth of experience, reliability, and a strong work ethic to the table. They have accumulated valuable skills throughout their careers and can contribute to the success of a business. Moreover, older workers tend to have lower turnover rates, reducing recruitment and training costs for employers. While there are many benefits to hiring older workers, let’s look at a few challenges that they can present. 

Challenges Faced by Older Workers

Older workers may face certain challenges that businesses need to be aware of and address. Physical health considerations, such as age-related limitations or chronic conditions, can impact their ability to perform certain tasks. Additionally, mental health considerations should be taken into account, as older workers may face unique pressures related to retirement planning, financial security, or coping with changes in the workplace due to technology.

Physical and Mental Health Considerations

Older workers may experience physical health challenges, such as reduced strength or mobility. Providing ergonomic workstations, appropriate equipment and safety training, and implementing health and wellness programs for older employees can support their physical well-being. Mental health considerations are equally important. Employers should foster a supportive work environment that promotes open communication, offers resources for stress management, and encourages work-life balance. Regular check-ins, access to counseling services, and awareness programs can contribute to the overall mental well-being of older workers.

The Importance of Understanding and Catering to the Needs of Older Workers

To fully harness the potential of an aging workforce, it is crucial for businesses to understand and cater to the specific needs of older workers. Providing training and development opportunities tailored to their requirements can help them stay current with industry advancements. Promoting work-life balance, offering flexible work arrangements, and creating inclusive work environments are key factors in retaining and attracting older talent. Recognizing the value they bring to the organization and actively involving them in decision-making processes can enhance job satisfaction and ensure a thriving, diverse workforce.

Need for Flexible Work Arrangements

To accommodate the needs of older workers, flexible work arrangements play a vital role. Offering part-time employment options, limited physical demand positions, and the opportunity to work remotely can provide the necessary flexibility for older employees to thrive. This allows them to continue contributing their skills and experience while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By embracing these arrangements, businesses can retain experienced workers and attract new talent.

Job Opportunities

As mentioned above, part-time employment options, flexible work arrangements, and limited physical demand positions are well-suited for older workers. Part-time roles allow older employees to transition into retirement gradually while still contributing their expertise. Flexible work arrangements, such as flexible schedules, can enable older workers to balance work with other commitments. Limited physical demand positions take into account the changing physical capabilities of older workers, ensuring they can continue working comfortably and productively.

Benefits of Fostering Inter-generational Mentorship 

Adopting inter-generational mentorship programs can yield several benefits for businesses. Such initiatives foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and skill development across different generations. Older workers can pass on their expertise and industry knowledge to younger employees, while younger workers can bring fresh perspectives and technological skills to the table. This inter-generational collaboration leads to increased productivity, improved employee engagement, and a more dynamic work environment.

Conclusion: Embracing Age Diversity for a Thriving Workforce

In the face of the worker shortage and a skills gap, embracing age diversity becomes imperative. By recognizing the benefits of hiring and retaining older workers, businesses can tap into a wealth of experience, loyalty, and reliability. Age-diverse teams foster creativity, innovation, and adaptability, enabling companies to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market. Embracing age diversity not only helps close the skills gap but also cultivates a workplace culture that values and empowers people of all ages.

Contact The Ōnin Group Today to Beat the Worker Shortage!

The Ōnin Group, a Nationally trusted staffing partner, can help your team address the challenges posed by the worker shortage and take advantage of the benefits of the aging workforce. 

Businesses need a strategic approach to hiring and retaining older workers and that’s where we come in. Let us assist in finding the right talent to meet your specific needs.