Can mature workers be counted on to contribute as much to their company’s bottom line as younger hires? It’s a simple question, but one that has too often been shrouded in myth, not fact.
The Mature Workforce Initiative examined employee productivity, including the roles of cognitive and physical fitness, and the value of experience. It looked at the role cognitive fitness and physical health play in doing a job well, and ways companies can assess which is most important to the positions they need to staff.
Managing mature workers well can improve their productivity and optimize their contributions. Several case studies in the report Gray Skies, Silver Linings: How Companies Are Forecasting, Managing, and Recruiting a Mature Workforce highlight the importance of managing mature workers effectively instead of leaving them alone to "retire in place." The Conference Board also looked at how companies can, and indeed must, stay age-neutral when evaluating and regularly assessing employee productivity. The initiative tackled one of the thorniest issues in the employment of older workers: overtime. Findings in the Executive Action "Can They Take It? What Happens When Older Employees Work Overtime" put to rest misconceptions about extended hours and mature workers. The research goes beyond mere statistics on injury rates, exploring how mature workers' well-developed knowledge of risks in particular tasks can help them avoid dangers. Since economic recoveries have historically relied on overtime, this study provides helpful guidelines for companies looking to rebuild their output without demolishing the bottom line.
Assessing and developing employee productivity is also a key focus of Putting Experience to Work: A Guide to Navigating Legal and Management Issues Relating to a Mature Workforce. This handbook features role-playing examples, guidance on training and accountability at all stages of a worker’s career, and sobering reminders of the dangers of mismanaging these tasks. It also offers methods for taking ageism out of performance reviews to objectively assess a mature worker’s capacity to contribute to his or her employer’s growth.
Report credit: Harris Allen and Christopher Woock, "Can They Take It? What Happens When Older Employees Work Overtime," The Conference Board, Executive Action 289, 2008, p. 5.