In particular, “Organizations are stronger when they include the contributions of more seasoned employees,” says Grimaldi, author of the new book FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. A blend of different ages means you get more diverse perspectives and a synergy that gives you a competitive edge. Younger workers can come up with different ideas and may push for meaningful social and environmental change. But older employees bring a wealth of experience, insight, stability and soft skills that younger people may not have developed yet.”
Here are his suggestions for attracting more experienced talent and making the most of a multigenerational work force.
Stop using words that exclude older workers
When a recruiter places an ad looking for someone to join a “young, dynamic team” or laughs about a “senior moment,” that’s ageism at work (even though younger employees might not recognize it). And that’s never okay. Companies looking to recruit older workers need to avoid using words that exclude them. Instead of savvy, young, or energetic, try words like motivated, dedicated, and driven instead.
Rethink your recruitment marketing materials
Make sure your marketing materials for recruitment reflect the diversity your organization is seeking, including workers in the Baby Boomer age category. Do photos depict older people as well as younger people? People of color? Nonbinary-gender non-conforming people? Women?
Call out age as an element in your diversity and inclusion training
Specifically mention “age” in your organization’s statements about the value of diversity and inclusion. Then make sure that your policies and strategies reflect your position that age is a valued diversity element in your organization. Finally, include age in your anti-bias training.
Offer benefits that attract older workers
Gym memberships, flexible work arrangements, and education topics such as retirement planning are all appealing to aging employees. You can also follow the lead of other creative American companies going above and beyond to attract older employees.
For example, CVS offers a “Snowbird” program that allows older workers—pharmacists, photo supervisors, and cosmetic consultants—to transfer locations on a seasonal basis. (IBM has a similar program.) The National Institutes of Health actively recruits smart people over age 50 at job fairs and then lures them with flex schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and exercise classes. Even Home Depot hires retired construction workers to advise customers on its sales floor.
Don’t just hire for skills—hire for attitude
A person’s openness to learning—not their age—is what makes them a great worker. In our rapidly changing work environment, those willing to adapt and learn new ways of doing things are the most valuable, regardless of age. An older employee who is coachable and has a great attitude and a willingness to try new things might contribute more than a talented Generation Zer who resists being trained in new skills.
At the same time, make sure your interviewers are well trained on how to assess skills and remain focused on the objectives of the job. Interviewers should understand whether a candidate’s experiences and skills—especially the soft skills acquired by many mature employees—will make them a strong candidate.
Form mixed-age teams for better collaboration
Give people of all ages chances to work together for common purposes. Research has shown that multi-generational teams outperform less age-diverse teams on complex decision-making tasks.
About Rick Grimaldi:
Rick Grimaldi is a workplace trends expert and the author of FLEX: A Leader’s Guide to Staying Nimble and Mastering Transformative Change in the American Workplace. Rick’s unique perspective comes from his diverse career in high-ranking public service positions, as a human resources and labor relations professional for an international hi-tech company, and presently in private practice as a partner with Fisher Phillips, LLP, one of America’s preeminent management side labor and employment law firms. Day to day, Rick works with companies to help them adapt to the ever-changing business environment, achieve their workplace goals, and become better employers. Rick is an internationally recognized writer and keynote speaker, and has been selected through a peer review process as one of The Best Lawyers in America© in three of the last four years.
For more information, please visit www.rickgrimaldi.com.