In America today, people are working longer and retiring later than at any other point in history. Baby Boomers are changing the face of the workforce as we know it. This generation of employees, born between 1946 to 1964, are not retiring or leaving the workforce in ways that were expected from generations before them. By 2026, it’s estimated that 30.2% of the U.S. workforce will be over the age of 65, as compared to just 17.5% in 1996. As people live longer, their productive years also grow. Many “retirees” simply aren’t ready to hang up their hats by the time they hit their 50s, or even 60s. In fact, they wish to continue contributing to the labor market.
This sounds fantastic, but what does it mean for employers? Is it a risk or a benefit to have an older workforce? Let’s explore.
When it comes to being hired, age discrimination is a massive challenge for folks over 50, but companies should work to overcome this bias. There are so many benefits to having various age groups on your team. So, why should your small to mid-sized business reach out to the elders among us? We’re glad you asked!
Much has been written about the challenges of motivating millennials in the workforce and the benefits they bring to the table. But what about the benefits of hiring older workers? With age comes wisdom and experience, both qualities that most businesses look for in their workers.
Older workers tend to have stronger levels of loyalty to a company and are much less likely to leave if a new opportunity crops up elsewhere. They tend to be more realistic about their career goals and have much more experience, which brings with it improved communication skills and a strong work ethic, making hiring older workers a worthwhile investment. Studies from the Wharton School of business have also shown that employers over the age of 55 have increased levels of productivity.
So, what’s the risk?
At first blush, it would appear that aging workers could increase insurance premiums due to age-related impairments, but that’s not always the case. Older employees are less likely to take risks on the job and more likely to follow specific safety rules.
To mitigate risks and maintain lower insurance claims, consider updating your workplace. By implementing a well-designed workplace all employees will benefit and risks will be lowered all around.
Ergonomic workstations can be a fantastic investment, regardless of the age of your workforce. Having older workers in the office could incentivize retrofitting workstations with new desks and chairs that could increase productivity and worker engagement.
You might also consider introducing flexible work hours, or even work-from-home situations, for employees, which has been proven to increase job applicants.
Encouraging healthy behavior can be as much of an investment as you choose. The option of implementing a wellness plan for employees is an excellent choice, but can become costly. Setting up friendly (and optional) challenges amongst employees based on exercise, weight loss, or healthy eating can not only improve the health of employees and increase their strength and mobility, but also work well as a team building opportunity.
Obviously, older workers will have more health issues on the whole than their younger counterparts. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the potential costs? Well, that all depends on who is providing your insurance.
At Normandy Insurance, we understand the unique challenges that face your business every day. Small and medium-sized businesses are often operating on tight budgets, so you might not think that you can “afford” to hire older workers with potential health risks. But we can help you mitigate those issues and figure out insurance plans that will cover all of your workforce while also slaying needless workers’ comp costs!
If you’d like to learn more about how workers’ compensation insurance could impact your business and aging employees, we invite you to contact us today!