The time is ripe for creating more age-friendly workplaces that embrace the experience, judgment and motivation that older workers develop over years of successfully serving customers and clients. Big trends — like people living longer lives and the ongoing decline in birth rates — are combining with today's unique labor force challenges to make this the perfect time to harness the productivity of older workers and the creativity of intergenerational work teams.
Employers that understand and value the contributions of older workers (age 50-plus), as well as the creativity and dynamism generated by multiple generations in the workplace, will be at a competitive advantage.
Currently, many businesses are missing out on the well-researched benefits of older workers. Older workers represent a deep pool of talent that is too often underutilized because of misperceptions and stereotypes that simply don't hold up. Studies consistently show that older workers maintain their productivity and bring the soft skills — reliability, creativity, and a lifetime's experience of adapting to change — employers seek.
Changing the Narrative has partnered with the Age-Friendly Institute to increase awareness of the critical role older workers can play in meeting our workforce demands. The Certified Age Friendly Employer (CAFE) program recognizes organizations committed to being the best places for older people to work and assists age 50-plus job seekers by identifying age friendly employers.
Certified Age Friendly Employers value employees based on their proficiency, qualifications, and contribution — regardless of age — and maintain policies, practices and programs supporting people age 50 and older. Certified employers want older job candidates to know they are valued for their knowledge, maturity, and productivity and these employers are committed to providing meaningful employment, development opportunities and competitive pay and benefits for their employees.
The Age-Friendly Institute created the Certified Age Friendly Employer program to recognize companies that meet a set of “best practices” for recruiting and retaining older workers. Companies like Home Depot, REI and Starbucks have worked to ensure their workplace practices meet these standards. Changing the Narrative's partnership with the Age-Friendly Institute brings the CAFE certification program to Colorado employers. Colorado employers can now signal to potential employees, current employees and the general public that they appreciate the value of older workers.
Today's age 50-plus workers are planning to remain in the workforce longer than the generations that preceded them. Some plan to remain in their current careers, while others seek new opportunities. No matter which path they take, mature workers generate high customer satisfaction rates. They also remain three times longer in their jobs than younger workers, reducing the significant costs associated with hiring and training new workers.
With tightening labor markets in Colorado, and the nation, it only makes sense to take advantage of the fastest growing segment of our workforce and keep older adults contributing to our economy. Long-term demographic trends will put first movers — those employers who recognize the value of older workers — at an advantage.
Find out more about becoming a Certified Age-Friendly Employer today. changingthenarrativeco.org/certified-age-friendly-employer.
Janine Vanderburg is director of Changing the Narrative, a campaign to change the way people think, talk and act about aging, older adults and ageism. To learn more, contact email@example.com or visit ChangingTheNarrativeCo.org.
This column is hosted by the Seniors' Council of Douglas County. Please join us for our next virtual online presentation Oct. 7 at 10 a.m. Our presenter will be Dennis DelPizzo with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding the annual Medicare update. For more information, please visit www.MyDougCoSeniorLife.com, email DCSeniorLife@douglas.co.us or call 303-663-7681.