Counterpoint: Organizations need a younger spark.
Older workers are costing employers due to health factors and the exclusion of younger workers.
It may sound crass -- and done improperly, it's certainly the basis for a major class-action lawsuit -- but companies really should be thinking more about "out with the old and in with the new."
Study after study has shown that older workers are putting off retirement, fearful of outliving their savings. It's hard to blame them for that, but the down side for organizations is not just a decline of spark and creativity, it's an increase in workplace absence and workers' compensation costs.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the amount of time off from work due to injury and illness increases steadily with age, even though the rate of injury and illness is similar for older and younger workers.
With the fastest growing segment of the working population being individuals 55 and older, the impact on organizations can be excessive. In this belt-tightening economy, can employers really afford those ever-growing expenditures?
The number of older workers still on the payroll is costing organizations in other ways as well -- especially in the realm of lost innovation and opportunity. Young ideas, untethered to a philosophy of the same-old way of doing business, are what's needed to jump-start many organizations.
In addition, young workers have an innate understanding of innovative technology, learned from the cradle and probably surpassing that of many organizations. That knowledge is crucial to putting together a successful vision and growth strategy.
By comparison, some older workers have difficulty in adapting to change and cutting-edge technology. And, let's face it, many older workers have stopped trying so hard. They are competent, but comfortable. They are not looking to drive themselves hard at this stage of life.
There is no shortage of talented, younger employees in this struggling economy. In fact, according to a Northeastern University professor who recently crunched the numbers, about 36 percent of recent college graduates are mal-employed.
They are wasting their educations working in low-paid service industries. And their ambition and innovative ideas are being lost to employers, whose own workforces are stagnant.
By Anne Freedman, senior editor, Risk & Insurance®
September 1, 2013
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