How to Create More Productive Teams & Re-engage Your Company Alumni

Mar 20, 2024

With older adults continuing to work beyond traditional retirement years, many HR and organizational leaders are wondering and even worrying about how five generations, from Traditionalists to Gen Z, can coexist effectively in the workplace.

But many leading-edge companies are thinking beyond cooperation to high performance. They’re strategizing how to optimize these generational dynamics—and the scores of seniors still willing or needing to work—in ways that increase productivity, enhance employee engagement, and reduce burnout among younger employees.

And some organizations are already ahead of the curve, looking at ways to attract and retain retirement-age workers by building and utilizing alumni programs.

 

The Trend of Employed Seniors Is on the Rise

According to a Pew Research study, nearly 20% of people aged 65 and older were employed in 2023. This represents a near doubling compared to the three decades before. In fact, Bain & Co. estimates that employees 55 and older will make up over 25% of the global workforce by 2031. There are number of reasons why older Americans are remaining in or returning to the office, including the need for financial security, social connectivity, and purpose—especially as lifespans increase. It may be unsurprising, then, that many seniors are seeking out their second and third acts. They’re reskilling or upskilling to remain relevant and actively involved in their careers. This level of interest among senior professionals provides opportunities for companies to engage with this population even more as they manage or enhance their alumni/retiree programs.

 

The Benefits of Working With Older Adults and Retirees

While it’s important to avoid stereotyping any generation and treating any group as a monolith, older workers tend to have a few highly attractive qualities in common.

  • They’re more loyal. At a time in society when younger generations tend to job-hop at accelerated paces, often costing employers between one and two times an employee’s annual salary to replace them, older employees tend to stay. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC), companies whose proportion of older workers is 10% higher than that of other firms see 4% less turnover in contrast to companies with a lower proportion.
  • They’re more seasoned. These workers tend to bring more formalized knowledge that they’ve accumulated over decades, as well as an ability to share feedback, advice, and mentorship with tact. For example, when a colleague brings 40 or more years of experience to an office, they can offer wisdom and the comfort of knowing how to handle sensitive or complex situations. According to SHRM, knowledge and expertise—the main predictors of job performance—continue to increase even beyond the age of 80.
  • They’re team and service oriented. Marked by empathy and a desire to serve others and influenced by the social movements of the 1960s, older workers are motivated by a call to duty in comparison to their more youthful counterparts. This sense of caring not only help companies, but co-workers as well.
  • They’re less stressed. Perhaps contrary to popular belief, it’s younger generations that tend to get more anxious and distraught at work compared to the senior set, leading to more attendance issues and attrition and costing companies significant money and time. A 2022 Gallup survey shows that Boomers have the lowest levels of burnout and the highest levels of engagement in the workplace. They tend to stay calmer, bringing the communal stress levels down in their offices.

The bottom line. Extensive research by AARP found that multigenerational teams are more productive than homogeneously aged ones.

 

Recruiting and Retaining Retiree Talent: Tap Into Your Alumni Network

Although a significant proportion of retirement-aged individuals want or need to remain in the workforce and the U.S. is facing a labor shortage fueled in part by quiet quitting, many employers are not fully embracing or tapping into this desirable population. For instance, ResumeBuilder.com reports that only 20% of retirees say their previous employer has reached out to them to return to work despite the labor pinch.

Therein lies a massive opportunity.

Employment Enterprises, for example, offers and manages a strong alumni program that enables companies to dip back into their former employee pools, including those at or reaching retirement age. This is an automatic network to leverage, with many advantages:

  • You have a pre-existing relationship with the alum;
  • The former employee has valuable institutional knowledge;
  • The person is a known quantity with a track record of performance; and
  • It potentially reduces the cost and time of recruitment.

Beyond offering a value-add to companies, an alumni program creates opportunities for retirees and other alums to stay connected, re-engage with former colleagues, and make meaningful contributions to a company’s success.

 

Start Future-Proofing and Diversifying Your Talent Now

The business benefits of embracing a diverse workplace are overwhelmingly clear: Diverse companies earn 2.5 times higher cash flow per employee, inclusive teams are 35% more productive, and diverse teams make better decisions 87% of the time. So, the time to plan is now.

Through initiatives like an alumni program that bolsters and diversifies the workforce, employers can achieve their organizational goals while demonstrating that talent knows no age limits and that everyone has an opportunity to make a lasting impact.

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