Table of Contents

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

The Multi-generational and Aging Workforce

Challenges and Opportunities

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou

The workforce is aging as people live longer and healthier lives, and mandatory retirement has become a relic of the past. Though workforces have always contained both younger and older employees the age range today has expanded, and the generational gap has become more distinct. This book advocates the need for talented employees of all ages as a way to prevent potential skill shortages and considers both the challenges and opportunities that these changes raise for individual organizations. The benefits they discuss include greater employee diversity with regards to knowledge, skills experience and perspectives, whilst challenges involve potential generational tensions, stereotypes and age biases. The book further places an emphasis on initiatives to create generation-friendly workplaces; these involve fostering lifelong learning, tackling age stereotypes and biases, employing reverse mentoring where younger employees mentor older employees, and offering older individuals career options including phased retirement, bridge employment and encore careers.

Chapter 13: Retaining aging workers in the workplace – stakeholder initiatives

Deborah M. McPhee and Francine Schlosser

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


[R]esearch indicates that the imminent retirement of the baby-boom generation heralds profound change in the composition and structure of our national labour force, and that by 2015 not enough qualified people will be available to fill all of the positions vacated by departing mature employees (The Conference Board of Canada, 2005). Simply put, there are too few young workers. In addition, immigration at its current levels will not close the gap. (Owens, 2006, p. 1) As the quote above points out, soon there just won’t be enough young people to fill the gaps, and immigration levels will also not fix the problem. The demand to maintain adequate productivity levels and remain profitable will be hampered. Recent research has highlighted that the baby boom generation, defined as those born in the period from 1946 to 1964, are retiring en masse (Schlosser et al., 2012). The popular media have defined the “baby boom” as the cohorts born between 1946 and 1962. Yet another camp argues that the boom did not start until 1951 and may have ended in 1966. What is not in dispute is that the peak of the baby boom occurred in 1959 in Canada. Regardless of the definition, baby boomers will all be aged 65 or over by 2031 (Statistics Canada, 2010). This surge of older, trained workers leaving the workforce gives business leaders cause to be concerned, as there is the potential for a shortage of skilled human resources.

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