Teamwork: A successful strategy for dealing with an aging workforce

Organizations are increasingly becoming aware of the need to adjust to an aging workforce (AWF). The number of workers over the age of 55 is expected to grow at 4 times the rate of the overall labor force. Teamwork provides a number of benefits that will help organizations deal with this shift.

According to the AWF Pulse Study of managers and executives, more than 4 out of 10 respondents believe that an AWF will affect their organizational culture and the quality of their talent. Key findings include:

1. Culture Change The AWF will have a strong effect on their company’s culture, some view this as a strategic opportunity to reshape their organizational culture in a new and desirable direction.

2. Knowledge Gap As older employees leave, their talent, knowledge, deep relationships and extensive, on-the-job training exits with them.

3. Leadership Gap Respondents were also concerned about the loss of leadership knowledge, skills and abilities.

Teamwork provides some distinct advantages for companies in dealing with these issues. Teaming older employees with newer, younger employees allows for sharing of organizational culture and knowledge. Teams also allow for leaders to coach younger team members who will become the leaders of the future. Learning within teams is not uni-directional, of course. Newer employees teamed with veterans can share a great deal of knowledge, especially about newer technologies, and can often infuse a great deal of enthusiasm to work teams.

To ensure success, leaders will want to explicitly communicate that knowledge sharing, learning, and staff development are goals of the team in additional to their work objectives. Managers will also want to consider development needs when making team assignments. For example, it may be more beneficial to team a new hire with an employee who is 5 years away from retirement than with a veteran who plans to retire within the year.

America’s AWF will present both anticipated and unknown challenges for businesses, government entities, and non-profit organizations. Has your organization begun planning strategies to deal with these issues? Is your culture of teamwork strong enough to meet the demands and to take advantage of the opportunities?

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