There has been much focus in organizations on how to attract the Gen Y’s into the workplace and this is very important. A big impetus for this is the looming retirement of Boomers and all the vacant spaces that will need to be filled. It is true that Boomers are getting older, but many of them also would like to work longer, if they could have more flexibility in their working hours and benefits. Companies need to be careful about putting all their focus on attracting the younger employee and ignoring the loyal older and experienced resources that they already have. Statistics show that a large percentage of younger employees leave in the first 2-3 years whereas the older worker is usually more loyal and not looking at the job as a springboard to their next position.
Some people will say that older people are set in their ways and unwilling to change. This can happen but many times it is a result of a workplace that has shoved them aside and not given them opportunities where they can grow and learn. One of the most destructive policies can be the “forced rankings” on the perfomance reviews, where older workers are rated lower since it is thought that there is no reason to motivate these people any more since they are going to retire in a few years anyhow. Since the company has budgeted for only so much salary increases, they want to give them to the younger workers to keep them motivated. Another common issue is that older workers may be at the top of their paybands already and so the company thinks it best to encourage them to leave as soon as possible so their jobs can be filled by younger, perhaps lower paid workers. For the older worker, less salary increase is often not so much of the issue as the lower ranking on their performance without valid cause.
Many older workers would love to have a part time or flexible job arrangement where they are respected and valued. When some of them are able to find this, they have a new energy for their work and the company has retained valuable talent and work ethic. Many of these people are thrilled to mentor younger employees as well. Others hang on in full-time positions because they want to continue working but do not have the choice of doing part-time work that uses their skills. They long for more freedom or chances to learn, but they may stay on and “check out”.
In summary, the best organizations will have the energy and growth provided by younger workers and the stability and experience from older workers, in addition to the middle generations who are the core of the company.
Here’s an interesting link to a Calgary Herald article called “In Praise of Older Workers” . http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/todays-paper/praise+older+workers/4893882/story.html