Explores employer motivations to adopt policies and practices that are inclusive of the aging workforce.

This report presents survey findings that illuminate employers’ perspectives on adopting various policies and practices that respond to the growing number of mature workers. Using the Sloan Center on Aging & Work’s Awareness to Action model, the authors guide the discussion in the report to build a case for employer investment in the aging workforce. According to the authors, the timing is appropriate “to view today’s older workers as an under-tapped resource that brings some of the experience, skills, and competencies employers need today. And, it might be the right time to engage mature talent so our businesses will be ready for the competitive spaces that will open up as the economy strengthens.

In this report, [the authors] explore two fundamental questions:

  • Are employers adopting policies and programs that can help them adapt to the aging of the workforce?
  • Why have some employers responded to the aging of the workforce and others have not?” (p.5).

“The findings of this report also provide some explanation about why some employers have responded to the aging of the workforce while others have not. Not surprisingly, [the authors] found that employers who anticipate that the aging of the workforce will have a ‘positive’ impact on their organizations are more likely to take steps to recruit, engage, and retain these workers. Employers who are aware of skills shortages are more likely to have more comprehensive flexible work initiatives. Furthermore, employers who have collected data needed to assess the potential impact of important trends on their own business strategies are more likely to take actions for all employees, including older workers. Gathering information that ensures employers will have the people they need will also guide employers in planning the necessary action steps to support the aging workforce in this country” (p.24).

This report is one paper in a five-part series from Tapping Mature Talent: Policies for a 21st Century Workforce.

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors summarized the findings of this report as follows: • “More than half (57.1%) of the respondents to the Talent Management Survey reported that the top management of their organizations was aware of the changing age demographics of the U.S. workforce ‘to a moderate/great extent’ and 11.8% felt that the top management of their organizations was not aware of the changing workforce demographics at all” (p.22). • “Only 11.0% of employers reported that the aging of the workforce would have a ‘very/somewhat positive’ impact on their organizations ‘over the next three years’ whereas 39.8% of the respondents stated that the aging of the workforce would likely have a ‘very/somewhat negative’ impact. • Most employers (75.0%) reported that today’s economic circumstances would likely have a ‘very/somewhat negative’ impact on their organizations. • The skills in short supply, as reported by the largest percentage of organizations, included: management skills (37.5%), legal skills (29.8%), sales/marketing skills (28.6%), operations skills (23.0%), and technical computer skills (22.8%). • The human resource concerns reported by the highest percentage of employers were: recruiting competent job applicants (43.1%), employees’ performance (29.7%), being able to offer competitive pay and benefits (29.6%), and low skill levels of new employees (27.4%). However, a minority of employers identified generational conflict (7.2%) or shifts in the age demographics of the workforce (11.8%) as human resource challenges. • More than two-thirds (68.0%) of the employers reported that they had either not done any analysis or had done only limited analysis of the demographic make-up of their own workforces. Furthermore, more than three-fourths had ‘not analyzed/analyzed only to a limited extent’ information about employees’ career plans/work preferences (77.0%) or projected retirement rates (76.4%)” (p.23). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)