by Alex Palmer | May 22, 2012
Organizations are not taking full advantage of the skills and knowledge offered by their employees older than 55, according to the Center for Productive Longevity. The workplace advocacy group released a statement earlier this month outlining several specific ways that companies could better engage their older employees, and rethink the conventional ways pre-retirees are dealt with.

One of these three strategies is to encourage “Baby Boomer Entrepreneurship,” with more workers over 55 creating their own businesses and setting their own schedules so they can do as much or as little work as is comfortable for them. 

For those still in the workplace, the CPL recommended more flexible schedules, with phased retirement programs that allow older employees to continue working on a part-time basis. A recent survey from Harris Interactive found that just 24 percent of Fortune 1000 companies currently offer these options to their staffs. 

“Flexible workplace options would also encompass seasonal work, telecommuting, reduced hours during the week, or developing other options to retain older workers or those who want to continue working but not on a full-time basis,” says William Zinke, founder and president of the group (who is himself 85 years old).  

The third recommendation made by the group is to boost the utilization of the older talent pool, taking advantage of the “experience, expertise, seasoned judgment, and proven performance (EESP),” of workplace veterans.  

“They often have more skills and abilities than younger workers,” says Zinke. “But there are other factors as well: Harris research found that they ware viewed as more reliable and dependable, and see significantly less turnover, yet companies are spending more training and development dollars on younger people.”

These efforts are especially important as Baby Boomers have begun to reach retirement age, creating what the Zinke described as a “ticking time bomb” of large numbers of the population not taking part in the workforce.

While stopping work at 65 made sense decades ago, with individuals living longer and healthier, Zinke recommends companies find ways to continue to tap into the talents of their older employees.
“80 percent of Baby Boomers intend to continue working after they turn 65, according to AARP, and others want to remain socially connected,” says Zinke. “They want to feel they are continuing to add value and continue to work.”