What motivates the mature worker? How does an employer harness its commitment for the good of its broader workforce and the company’s bottom line? Does engagement change as an employee contemplates retirement and, if so, how does that change affect his or her work and the greater goals of the company? What can be done to maintain a positive level of engagement?
Whether employees are young or old, they need to feel their skills have meaningful impact—at their jobs or through social service.
For mature workers, engagement in the workplace can also be defined in terms of what they teach younger colleagues. But differences in learning styles may impede the knowledge transfer companies need to thrive. Bridging the Gaps: How to Transfer Knowledge in Today’s Multigenerational Workplace shows companies how to effectively share expertise across their workforces while avoiding ageism. It is designed to help them understand generational learning styles and preferences, and choose the best transfer methods for their needs.
Engagement is not just a one-way street, however. The Mature Workforce Initiative found that companies can enhance the commitment of older workers by continuing to actively manage them, which many fail to do. A member of the research working group assembled for Gray Skies, Silver Linings: How Companies Are Forecasting, Managing, and Recruiting a Mature Workforce sums it up: "We don’t hold mature workers accountable, and we don’t develop them." The report’s case studies provide strategies to increase engagement among this key worker cohort.
Bon Secours Richmond Health System implemented a strategy to actively monitor employees’ challenges and offer solutions. Its combination of flexible work and retirement options combined with wellness and career development programs has dramatically lowered turnover.
And a note of caution: Companies that equate advancing age with diminished interest in the workplace do so at their peril. Putting Experience to Work: A Guide to Navigating Legal and Management Issues Relating to a Mature Workforce looks at why companies need to offer continued training to all workers, as well as when—and how—to discuss retirement.