Out with the new and in with the old: Older workers valuable contributors

Millennials, many with relevant skill​ sets including IT, currently dominate recruitment discussion, with older workers largely remaining out of focus.

Most business leaders will likely be feeling the demand to bring younger employees on board, as they can offer fresh ideas as well as new approaches to potentially tired processes. This drive shouldn't come at the expense of older workers, however, as a new study has found that they bring valuable knowledge to their positions.

Intelligence from experience

The American Psychological Association (APA) recently published a study that explored the role of age in the workplace, and found that older executives bring useful skills to the job, including what's called "crystallised intelligence".

This means verbal ability and knowledge born from experience – something that's certainly of critical importance when making crucial business decisions. Younger employees excelled when it came to fluid intelligence, however, which involves the ability to reason.

The results of this study serve to showcase the importance of retaining older members of the workforce, even if younger employees may appear to offer attractive benefits, including lower costs and the ability to train them over time.

Focusing on engagement

It's not just cognitive ability that's an important area of focus, as engagement should also rank highly on the employee priority list.

According to a study from the Journal of Organizational Behavior, older workers are actually more engaged than their younger counterparts. This trend was seen among workers approaching the retirement age bracket (55-65) as well as those eligible for retirement (66 years and over).

Older workers could represent a good opportunity for businesses.

Older workers could represent a good opportunity for businesses.

"There is this idea among employers that older workers require a lot of accommodations," explained Director of Research at the Sloan Center on Aging, Jacquelyn James.

"Older workers want the same things other workers want: opportunities for learning, job clarity, workplace flexibility, and supervisors who show concern for their well-being and recognition for a job well done. When these job conditions are met, workers of all ages are more engaged."

Clearly, businesses should not discount members of the older workforce, and start to think about hiring them in the near future.

If your business is planning to bring new workers onboard, whether they're experienced or new, consider the use of proven frameworks to ensure they're quickly brought up to speed. Training in PRINCE2 project management, for example, can be extremely useful for running business projects.

Get in touch with ALC Training if you'd like to start thinking about certification – it's a good idea if your business is planning on hiring additional staff.