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The Aging Workforce


The nation's workforce is getting older. In fact, the Coda Consulting Group says that the workforce is witnessing four generations of Americans. Nearly one out of every five people in their 70s continues to work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than 15 million workers were 55 or older in 1984. That figure jumped to 23 million workers in 2004, and it's expected to reach 34 million in 2014.

These changes will force the workplace to respond to the realities of aging team members. The challenge is keeping older generations up to date with technology and business practices, while still giving opportunities to newcomers who find themselves at the bottom of the ladder. Human Resource departments will also need to create team unity between the 23-year-old and the 68-year-old workers.

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The increase in older team members is attributed to several reasons. The biggest reason is that many older Americans must work in order to support themselves financially. People are living into their 70s and beyond, forcing them to plan accordingly for their later years. Many also enjoy working. Studies have found that the longer you work, the longer you live. Because of this, countless people decide to continue working well past the traditional retirement age. People are becoming more active and healthy, making them able to work longer.

Numerous companies have decided to change their work environment in order to provide jobs for the older generations.These are just a couple of examples:

  • McDonald's restaurants created a McMaster's program for older team members.
  • Wells Fargo buses over 100 retirees from a local retirement community to its operation center to help process monthly statements.

The key is to look at change as a benefit to your workplace. Every generation can learn something from another generation. A variety of ages within your company allows you to gain perspectives and skills that will enhance your company's productivity.

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