The Value of Experience

At a time when many companies value the outlooks of younger workers, baby boomers could find themselves marginalized in the workplace.
The Value of Experience
AT A TIME WHEN many companies value the outlooks of younger workers, baby boomers could find themselves marginalized in the workplace. But a report from Ashridge Business School in the United Kingdom emphasizes that companies that discount the knowledge and experience of older workers could be hurting their own performance.

The report is based on a survey of more than 2,000 workers over the age of 50, as well as HR directors. It finds that workers 50 and older, who by 2020 will make up one-third of the working population, are living longer and plan to work longer. Like their younger counterparts, they remain ambitious, seeking meaningful work and opportunities for growth. Even so, the survey finds that HR departments often focus career development efforts on younger workers, while directing older workers to retirement and financial planning resources.

To help baby boomers thrive, the report suggests that employers ask them to serve as advisors and nonexecutive directors and speak with them about their career aspirations. It also recommends that employers offer boomers more opportunities for training and development that will help them work toward new roles, such as becoming mentors to less experienced workers.

“If [baby boomers] are not stimulated and engaged at work, the knock-on effect on the motivation levels of others could be enormous,” says research fellow Carina Paine-Schofield, co-author of the report with Ashridge associate Sue Honoré. “Organizations also need to think about how the way they perceive and manage older workers impacts on recruitment and their brands.”

“Don’t Put Baby (Boomers) in the Corner: Realizing the Potential of the Over-50s at Work” is part of a series of reports on the intergenerational workforce. Request a copy of the report by email at research@ashridge.hult.edu.