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Hot new employment trend: Older workers

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Workers aged 55 and older will be the fastest growing age group in the American workforce in the next two decades, according to the Department of Labor. Their share of the labor force will increase from 13 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2010. By 2020, one out of every five workers is expected to be older than 55.

There are approximately 60 million baby boomers working now, and they will be leaving the workplace in droves over the next 15 years. For every three boomers that leave, there are but two younger workers waiting in the wings to replace them.

“To cope with this scarcity of workers, companies that want to stay competitive will be forced to implement innovative strategies to attract and retain older workers,” said George Corona, senior vice president at staffing provider Kelly Services. “Older workers typically offer an organization a greater bank of skills, fewer commitments, more financial stability and broader experience.”

There is no medical proof that worker productivity decreases with age, said Corona. “If someone does not perform well at age 55, then they probably did not perform well at age 35 either. Our experience shows that older workers generally are ready, willing and able to work beyond traditional retirement ages.”

In fact, a recent study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute says that nearly two out of every three workers expect to continue in gainful employment after they retire. While employers will benefit from tapping into this pool of mature, seasoned workers, the challenge comes in designing a work environment and tailored benefit packages to attract and retain them.

“Many of the older workers we place haven’t lost their work ethic, and they often find the traditional retirement lifestyle boring and unfulfilling,” said Corona. “They are looking to make a meaningful contribution in the workplace, provided they can still make the most of their personal time for family, social events, travel and hobbies.”

— Courtesy of ARA Content

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