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Embracing the Value of Older Workers in an Evolving Labor Market

In the contemporary American labor landscape, a critical, yet often overlooked demographic holds the potential to reshape the future of work: older workers. Traditionally, there has been a tendency to undervalue the contributions of older employees, with a bias favoring the perceived energy and innovation of younger talent. However, current statistics and research suggest a pressing need to reevaluate this perspective, especially in an increasingly tight labor market.

A significant shift in workforce demographics is already underway. In 2023, 20% of Americans over 65 were employed, nearly double the rate of the previous 30 years. Bain & Co. projects that 2031 employees aged 55 and older will constitute over 25% of the global workforce. This trend is not just a byproduct of necessity; it reflects the unique strengths of older workers.

Contrary to common misconceptions, older workers are among the most loyal employees, often staying with their employer longer than their younger counterparts. Their experience lends itself to a skill known as crystallization – the ability to give better advice and share more effective feedback as they age. This ability is complemented by increased empathy and a desire to serve others, traits often honed through life’s trials and a yearning to leave a meaningful legacy.

In terms of workplace dynamics, older workers exhibit the lowest levels of burnout and the highest levels of engagement. They tend to be more relaxed at work, a state attributed to their experiences and the reduced pressure to climb the corporate ladder aggressively.

The value of age diversity is further highlighted by a 2020 UK International Longevity Centre study. It found that teams aged 25 years or more met or exceeded their management’s expectations 73% of the time. In contrast, teams with an age gap of less than 10 years only achieved this 35% of the time. This suggests that a diverse age range within a workforce benefits a company’s goal attainment.

The reasons older people are working longer are multifaceted. Increased life expectancy, a need for additional income, better health, and a desire to remain active are all factors that differ markedly from previous generations. This shift presents a unique opportunity for American businesses to innovate their hiring and retention strategies. Whether through part-time roles, remote work opportunities, or entirely new approaches, leveraging the talents of older workers can be a crucial solution to the tightening labor market.

In conclusion, as we face a labor market projected to grow even tighter, it’s crucial to recognize the untapped potential of older workers. Their loyalty, experience, empathy, and engagement are invaluable assets that can drive organizational success. Embracing this demographic addresses labor shortages and enriches the workplace with a diversity of thought and experience, ultimately benefiting the American company and economy.


“20% of Americans over 65 were employed in 2023” – [Pew Research Study]

“Bain & Co. projection on employees 55+” – [Bain and Company]

“Research on loyalty and crystallization of older workers” – [Gallup]

“Baby Boomers have the lowest levels of burnout and the highest engagement at work” [2022 Gallup]

“UK International Longevity Centre study on age-diverse teams” – [2020]

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