Is Your Business Ready for the Aging Workforce?

Respectful Exits CEO Paul Rupert recently joined Retirement Coach Joe Casey for a discussion about how both employers and employees can more effectively navigate the evolving world of work for aging workers.

Joe spent 26-year in Human Resources with Merrill Lynch until shifting gears at age 52 to become an executive coach. He now works as a retirement coach with Retirement Wisdom to help people follow their passions after transitioning from corporate careers. He leads the Retirement Conversation podcast, where he interviews economists, authors, professors, and other experts in the field of retirement.

In an episode of the podcast called “Is Your Company Ready for the Aging Workforce?,” Paul shared insights from his many decades of experience in advocacy and consulting on workplace flexibility, as well as details about the mission of Respectful Exits and the need for transforming work for aging workers. Here are three key takeaways from their conversation.

It’s time for change

When Paul started out as an advocate for flexibility in the 1980s there was only one major firm that was implementing flex in any fashion (Hewlett Packard). Today, although not ubiquitous, certain forms of flex have definitely come a long way (remote work and flexible hours are becoming more and more common). Phased retirement, on the other hand, is still very much waiting in the wings. Now is the time for change, both so that individuals can ensure secure healthier futures for themselves and also so that businesses can reap the rewards of maximizing experienced talent.

Workers are individuals, not classes

It’s not possible to define entire generations with generalizations. Not every 65 year old will remain a vibrant contributor in the workplace; some people deteriorate at 62, some should have retired long before. Many septuagenarians may have years of productivity ahead while others may not. But the automatic categorization of entire classes of people leads to the grave danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Many millennials may be brilliant and driven, others may have terrible work habits. A truly forward-thinking HR function will do a careful analysis of the individual workers to identify their individual needs and strengths.

There’s always a path forward

It may seem like change is impossible due to insurmountable barriers, especially when it comes to deeply ingrained workplace structures and rituals (“habits”, according to Paul). But there was a time when the idea of working in a smoke-free office environment seemed impossible. Today smoking in the office would set off more than smoke alarms. The clearest route to change is to identify and counteract pain points: when there are toxins that are so obviously harmful and pervasive, then change becomes a necessity.

Listen to the full podcast episode: “Is Your Company Ready for the Aging Workforce?


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