The Value of an Age-Inclusive Flexible Work Culture
Even the staunchest of skeptics would agree that the talent shortage we’re experiencing in the U.S. is quite real, as are rising prices for gas, food, housing, and services. As a result of inflation and world events, the cost of going anywhere for anything is skyrocketing. During the pandemic, people learned that productive work from the comfort of home is possible – and desirable – which is why so many professionals are resisting a return to a typical office environment. More power to them, I say.
Having the choice to ply your trade virtually without the hassles, especially the commute, is now a viable choice for many job seekers when searching for a better job and work-life balance. Work-From-Home careers that provide competitive pay and flexible schedules are ideal for some but are especially appealing for older workers (a.k.a. those of us age 50+). Most of us feel that we’ve wasted enough time and money commuting, enduring office politics and gossip, and spending soul-crushing days cloistered in dark cubicles. And in the precious few hours remaining each day, we managed our families and pursued personal endeavors.
When Leslie Jorgensen founded Supporting Strategies in 2004, she wanted to find a way to combine her professional and private life, creating a genuine and sustainable work-life balance. Since then, remote-based and flexible work is an integral part of our company culture. For over 18 years, we have offered experienced bookkeeping, accounting, and financial professionals the opportunity to work a full- or part-time schedule from their own home office.
We have been successfully supporting our clients and team virtually, long before the pandemic changed the way the business world operates. Thanks to our years of experience working remotely, we didn’t have to scramble to build a healthy, inclusive virtual culture and infrastructure – we already had one.
With much of our workforce in the age 50+ Gen X and Boomer groups, we decided to pursue certification through the Age-Friendly Institute, an organization working to fuel innovation that supports healthy, active, and productive aging through advocacy, education, and promoting collaboration among thought leaders in aging services. Their Certified Age Friendly Employer (CAFE) program is a nationally recognized certification initiative that identifies organizations committed to being the best places to work for age 50+ employees.
At the Age-Friendly Institute, they celebrate the term “age-friendly” and for good reason so do we. Thanks to escalating demand driven by The Great Resignation many businesses are viewing older job applicants through fresh eyes.
Whether by choice or necessity, millions of mature Americans have returned to the workforce. Most want to resume working in their chosen profession while some want to try something new, but without committing to a full-time (or even a part-time) position in a conventional office environment.
Working from home keeps people in the workforce longer, which means more older people are figuring out how to ease into early retirement or earn money post-retirement to deal with rising inflation. Offering competitive compensation, flexible schedules, and remote-work options are critical to luring qualified talent back into a career or convincing them to stay in one.
Sadly, the 50+ age group is often overlooked and underestimated. By continuing to apply their skills and knowledge, older workers can provide valuable insight, professionalism, and credibility to your business. They have more in common with your clients and target buyers and will excel due to their expertise born from real-life experience. Humans can learn new things at any age – the more they hone their skills, the more they can contribute.
There has never been a better time than now to incorporate age diversity and remote flexibility into your talent strategy.
- Nearly 70% of the 5 million people who left the labor force during the pandemic are age 55+, according to SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management.
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects large increases in older adults sustaining the labor force with nearly 40% of 65- to 69-year-olds in the labor force by 2030, up 33% from 2020.
- The number of workers aged 75 and older is projected to increase by 67% annually, according to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging.
- Upwork estimates that 22% of the workforce (36.2 million Americans) will work remotely by 2025.
- The 10th Annual FlexJobs Survey found that 70% of respondents said a permanent remote job would have a considerable improvement or positive impact on their mental health.
Are you ready to reach into this nearly boundless talent pool? Here are a few tips:
1. Cast a broader net
Consider including niche job boards such as RetirementJobs.com, FlexJobs.com, and AARP.org in your marketing strategy to better target experienced workers. Improve your employer’s reputation on Glassdoor by encouraging mature team members to post about their experiences.
2. Craft the right messaging
Use direct statements such as “opportunities for retirees” or “experienced professionals encouraged to apply”. Make it clear that you are seeking mature applicants. Include age diversity as part of your DEI initiatives, culture, and values and in all recruitment marketing.
3. Educate interviewers
Train (or retrain) recruiters and hiring managers to focus on applicant abilities, not on age. Stress the importance of avoiding bias and the dangers of making unfair assumptions when interviewing older candidates.
We believe the most effective modern-day employment strategy includes recruiting the more experienced among us for both part-time and full-time flexible roles with the option to work from home. If your business is struggling to find qualified talent, perhaps it’s time to shift your perspective.
“Flexibility comes from having multiple choices; wisdom comes from having multiple perspectives.” Robert Dilts
Lynn Stewart is VP, Growth for Supporting Strategies leading talent acquisition, sales, marketing, and franchise development. With 30+ years driving revenue, marketing, and workforce strategy, her passion and expertise unite in providing a well-rounded perspective around business growth fueled by optimized talent development. Lynn Stewart
Since 2004, Supporting Strategies has provided business owners the financial insight and support they need without the overhead they don’t. Our experienced, virtual U.S.-based financial professionals and proven cloud-based technology provide clients peace of mind with real-time financials. We offer a full range of accounting, bookkeeping, and operational support services. SupportingStrategies.com
Founded in 2019, we harness what we learn when we listen to the voices of older adults to inform continuous age-friendly program improvement and accelerate the enhanced quality of life and care for older adults. The Age-Friendly Institute’s Certified Age Friendly Employer (CAFE) program is the nation’s only certification program that identifies organizations committed to being the best places to work for employees aged 50+. Age-Friendly Institute.com
By: Lynn Stewart