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Educating your elderly workforce – still worth it?

June 20, 2017

 

 

Minding the risk of calling anyone elderly and making them out to be “over the hill” I’ll just go ahead and count myself into this group. I’m not a digital native or millennial, I’m not even Generation X – and still I’m far from being done with education. 

 

Recent developments have shown that the workplace and the “classic” career are rapidly changing and people no longer come out of school and university “finished” with their education. Especially with digitalization and the rapidly changing life science industry today you can’t really be “done” with your education as soon as you start working. Your career today is more a continued education than it has ever been.

 

Growing need for professional development

 

Working with HR and headhunting I’m usually right on the pulse of current talent demands and workplace developments. Therefore I know: your degree and even your grade become less important and it becomes more and more decisive what you did with your career after that. How have you developed further and how did you achieve to gain that knowledge?

 

On top of that: keeping your workforce engaged has a lot to do with the development of their tasks. Giving people new challenges and even rotating their positions on a regular basis to avoid them getting bored or burnt out has proven to be more and more popular. People, especially when they’ve been working at a company for a long time, need to be challenged differently and they need continuous room for development.

 

Leave the “elderly” out and just think of them as your employees

 

Stereotypes exist – no doubt – about elderly employees. How they are not so fit, exhausted faster, slower, not as motivated and opposed to any kind of change. As with all stereotypes, it’s all a load of ****. And seeing it this way will for sure destroy your chance on ever engaging with your elderly employees. In fact, it’s best to see them as not being any different from any other employees. They frankly aren’t and – what’s most important – they are your workforce and will grow a bigger and bigger part of it. We’re living longer, we’re obviously therefore going to work longer and that means, we need to stay engaged in our jobs longer.

 

Make room for more and longer learning

 

What all this comes down to is: give all your employees – elderly or not – plenty of room to grow and educate themselves. It will not only make your company smarter and more likely to keep up with the changes that are already happening anyway, it will also help to keep your employees engaged in their jobs and feel appreciated because you give them room and time to enhance their skills and change their jobs for the better.

In addition you can even use the “elderly” to your advantage and create “elder statesmen” – an asset that is highly appreciated in the company and by the customers because of their experience and knowledge. Don’t underestimate how you can benefit from such concepts – as candidates and companies – in the future.

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