Understanding the Modern Elder – A closer look at the 50+ Worker
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Understanding the Modern Elder – A closer look at the 50+ Worker

The Experienced Worker

As more than 10,000 people reach retirement age across North America daily, understanding the 50+ worker has never been more pressing for employers, governments and communities.

The growth of these segments is staggering. In the US alone, 16% of the population is retirement age and this number is expected to grow to 25% of the population by 2030. Currently, 50+ year olds account for 1 in every 3 American citizens.

In Canada, the population of experienced professionals is equally large with 1 in every 3 Canadians being aged 50 or older and 14% of the population being at retirement age.

The pressing question emerging from these trends is how will employers, governments and communities make the best use of the incoming wave of experienced professionals?

Understanding the 50+ Worker

A recent article by Forbes tries to address these concerns by laying out what needs to be understood to successfully work with the ‘50+ worker’.

– The first step to harnessing the power of this cohort is combatting ageism. Forbes stated that “interviewees bumped up against ageism at work (resulting in a lack of opportunities) and even when networking with their peers.” This trend is hard to stop with many experienced professionals working in environments that are managed by people who are 10-20 years their junior.

– The second step to re-engaging seasoned professionals is to refresh the services tailored toward helping them so that they are less focused on health issues and senior discounts and more focused on helping experienced professionals get back in the work force. A recent survey conducted by a Next For Me suggested that 50+ workers had “negative feelings about AARP and its ilk” due to an overt focus on senior-driven health tips and senior discounts instead of offering options to help them achieve “income continuity” into retirement.

– The last step is to recognize that experienced professionals are open to learning new skills and taking on new roles. Not everyone with a wealth of experience wants to work full time as an executive or a manager. Thousands of seasoned workers would happily engage with shorter-term projects, work part-time, mentor, volunteer and advise others at this stage of their lives. For some this means entrepreneurship, for others this means transferring old skills to new environments and teams.

As the working population loses experienced leaders, thinkers and doers, companies, governments and communities will continue to feel the pain of the baby boomer brain drain. Companies that focus on matching experienced professionals with companies looking to harness the power of wisdom at work will be able to improve the communities in which they operate by providing companies with seasoned leaders and skills and providing those workers with income continuity that suits their stage of life.