For the first time in history, Canada has more people over the age of 65 than under 15. Canadian businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified workers. Described by some as the “perfect storm,” current labour shortages are being caused by increased job creation, global competition for skilled workers and an exodus of baby boomers from the workplace. Data released by the Conference Board of Canada projects that the exodus of retirees from the workforce will slow Canada’s economic growth to an annualized rate of 1.7% in the years between 2019 and 2021. Yet, despite these dire warnings, there is hope for organizations who engage the 50-plus talent pool.
Suzanne Cook, social gerontologist and adjunct professor at York University in Toronto, has been studying the phenomenon of later-life careers for the past 10 years. Through her research she has discovered that the number of baby boomers seeking work is on the rise, and these workers are using paid work as a form of redirection. “Redirection is an alternative to retirement as working life is extended,” says Cook. “Leading-edge organizations will want to retrain and retain their older workers.”
In recent years, many employers have focused on recruiting and retaining millennials, believing that this younger cohort would fill the gap left behind by the tsunami of retiring baby boomers. But millennials alone will not fill the gap and older workers are not leaving the workforce as predicted. In fact, baby boomers are challenging and redefining what it means to be retired and, rather than leaving the workforce, the number of older workers seeking employment is on the rise, states Cook.
Organizations that tap into this well of experienced talent will have an edge over those that don’t. Consider these seven steps to engage older workers: