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Strategies for Re-Engaging the Aging Workforce

9/12/2022 1:23:46 PM

WW September

As we continue to see record low unemployment and high job vacancies, many employers are trying new tactics and connecting with previously overlooked workforce talent pools. At our latest Workforce Wednesday discussion, we heard from a panel of employers and workforce partners who shared how they leverage their collective resources and expertise to support recruitment and retention efforts for the aging workforce.

What key advice would you give to businesses when they start engaging with an older workforce?

Brenda Shafer-Pellinen, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, ARDC

We need people of all ages represented in our workforce and we need to make sure everyone feels welcome at the table. Start with your marketing materials. Do they accurately reflect community members across the spectrum? How are you recruiting employees? Do you include older individuals in the hiring process? All these things matter when hiring older workers.

Maureen Kenney, Department of Human Services

Don’t screen out people you consider to be overqualified. They could be thinking of starting a new career path or want to work in a different sector. Also, highlight flexible benefits that are included in the job description, like telecommuting, part-time schedules, paid sick time, etc. so they know you’re willing to work with them.

Michelle Ufford, Essentia Health

Examine your own biases when it comes to hiring. We used to hire young go-getters who would grow within the company for decades and we know that’s not the case anymore. The older population today is not the older population of 10 to 15 years ago. We’re seeing a lot more tech-savvy older workers who can use email and computers so that’s not really an issue anymore. You should also engage with your current older employees to see what is working and what needs to be improved to make the environment more accommodating.

Delaney Eld, Miner’s Inc

We have great teams set up in each of our stores who can help applicants apply for jobs that may not have an email address or might need help filling out our applications. We’ve also made our applications as short as possible and really focus more on the interview when hiring. We’ve heard from various job boards that if an application takes longer than a minute and a half to complete, most people will lose interest and move on to something else.

What are some ways employers and partners can work together when hiring older workers?

Michelle Ufford, Essentia Health

Just knowing that programs like the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) and the CareerForce system exist is the first step for employers. They’re a great resource and more employers should know about them.

Have you used flexible work schedules as a retention strategy?

Delaney Eld, Miner’s Inc

Flexible work schedules are crucial for us. We have employees that range from 14 to 85 years old and when working with people’s high school, college and childcare schedules, it’s a necessity to be flexible to retain our employees.

Michelle Ufford, Essentia Health

Employers need to get over flexible schedules as a scary concept with employees. Phasing out mandatory retirement ages and letting workers remain working part-time is a great way to be flexible. Having two people job share a similar role so they can have reduced hours is another great example of being flexible. Obviously since the pandemic, we’ve seen telecommuting work successfully for many organizations. There’s a lot of different ways for employers to meet people’s needs.

View a recording of September’s session and other past sessions, plus find related resources you can download and use, on the Workforce Wednesday page on CareerForceMN.com.

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