You can’t have escaped the news that people are both living and working longer, which in turn means the average workforce will consist of a number of mature workers. This in turns brings its own nuances when it comes to engaging your team. That outward bound team building exercise you had planned or the club night session may not (or may – let me not be judgmental here) be successful at motivating your entire workforce. This provides employers with a unique opportunity to get creative when motivating and engaging a more mature and experienced workforce further aiding staff retention. Keep these top 10 engagement ideas in mind:
- Capitalize the mature workers’ wealth of knowledge – Create opportunities for mature employees to mentor new or younger team members.
- Encourage cross-generational innovation – Each generation brings its own perspective on products and services. Cross-pollinate ideas by utilizing the diversity in your workplace to develop innovative products and services. Remember your workforce demographics can also reflect your customer demographics.
- Provide flexible working opportunities – Parental leave requirements are often flipped – many older workers won’t have childcare responsibilities but may still have parents who are living but require care. So making some provision for this can decrease the stress some mature workers experience.
- Give genuine feedback and appreciation – If an employee was motivated by feedback and recognition in the past, it doesn’t mean that changes as they age. There is no age limit when it comes to feeling valued. Ensure your recognition programs are respectful and suitable across generations, and always take time to acknowledge everyone’s contributions. Research shows older workers are more motivated to exceed job expectations than younger workers.
- Older can often mean wiser – Just being older doesn’t automatically translate to strong leadership, but when you have experienced and valuable older employees who can lead—let them. Support them in sharing their strengths, talents, and leadership skills to others by assigning them special projects and overseeing teams.
- Present stimulating challenges – Mature workers have gone through economic downturns, recessions, work place stresses etc. and quite often know how to ride the storms in life. Draw upon their knowledge and maturity by giving them new work situations that will provide job satisfaction.
- Always learning, always developing – Mature employees may not necessarily be looking to drive ahead career-wise, but they still want to learn and increase their knowledge base. Don’t count them out, make training available for them to learn new technologies, business processes and stay relevant.
- Aim to keep health care benefits relevant and flexible – Vision and hearing problems are more likely to occur in older employees, so keep benefit plans relevant and useful. Remember women can often be facing menopause, so taking simple steps to support them through their transition can make world of difference.
- Tap into their network – Mature workers typically have extensive networks that they have built over their careers. There may be opportunities to tap into their networks for recruiting, outreach, or special projects.
- Culture shapers – Mature workers often have good old fashioned work ethics, they can help to shape your culture by demonstrating what it means to be productive, loyal, hard-working — and to go above-and-beyond the job description.
With age brings wisdom, and with wisdom brings a skill set that will help any organization thrive. At the end of the day, mature workers are a tremendous help in the workplace, and engaging them requires a culture that embraces all generations.
Do you have ways that older workers have brought outstanding contributions to your workplace? Share your success stories – I would love to hear them!