There is a pressing need to completely rethink how employers attract and retain older workers, regardless of the reasons behind the current challenges, argues Suzanne Noble.
We often hear about the importance of having a purpose. Businesses are encouraged to have a clear purpose, and individuals are advised to find their own sense of purpose. However, there is a growing consensus that the concept of purpose has become overused and has lost its true meaning. Instead, as my Startup School for Seniors colleague Patricia Gestoso suggested in a recent Medium post, we need to start thinking about the legacy we want to leave behind.
This is particularly relevant when it comes to older workers. As people move into their sixties, with less years of work in front of them then behind, they often start to think about the impact they have had on the world and the mark they will leave behind. For many, this is a time to reflect on their career and consider what they have achieved. It is also a time to think about what they still want to achieve and what they want to be remembered for.
For too long, older workers have been undervalued and overlooked by employers. Many are forced to take on low-paid, low-skilled jobs in hospitality, retail or construction, simply to make ends meet. Many are choosing a different path such as self-employment where they can be their own boss, in control of their working hours and which fits in with their other responsibilities. They are looking at the roles being advertised to them and rejecting the as not meeting their needs or providing them with a sense of job satisfaction.
Older workers often find themselves at a point in life where they want to pursue activities that they couldn’t before due to work commitments. This could include multiple interests that they want to explore, taking care of loved ones or themselves, or simply dedicating more time to a particular passion.
As people age, their priorities shift, and they start to focus on what truly matters to them. This often means wanting more control over their schedule and the ability to balance their work and personal lives, especially for those with caring responsibilities. Unfortunately, many employers are not able to provide this kind of flexibility, which can be a major barrier for older workers and a major challenge for attracting older talent.
There is a pressing need to completely rethink how employers attract and retain older workers, regardless of the reasons behind the current challenges. This involves exploring innovative solutions such as offering hybrid working arrangements, creating job-sharing opportunities between two or more people and providing training to enhance the confidence of older workers when using technology.
Moreover, it is vital to ensure that the workplace is comfortable for all employees, regardless of age, as this can lead to greater productivity, job satisfaction and overall well-being. By prioritising the needs of older workers and embracing flexibility, employers can tap into a valuable pool of experience and expertise, while also creating a more inclusive and supportive work environment that benefits everyone.
*Suzanne Noble is co-founder of the Start-up School for Seniors which runs a programme that helps older workers realise their entrepreneurial potential.