5 Steps to Staying Relevant at Work after 50

With the different approaches to work, baby boomers could be forgiven for believing that their relevance in the workplace is disappearing faster than the seemingly daily advances in technology.

It is why I find many clients questioning their work and the bigger picture of their overall life. Often we end up exploring a deeper meaning to it all and land in the areas of mindfulness and purpose.

But a report commissioned by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) conducted by AON Hewitt found that baby boomers influence is set to INCREASE over the next 7 years. 35% of US labour force participants will be age 50+ in 2022, compared to 25% in 2002.

And it’s not just the overhang in retirement savings depletion after the 2008 recession that is causing this. Older workers are looking to maintain the social and psychological fulfillment that works gives them.

They are not ready to retire and neither are their HR departments.

A SHRM (Society of Human Resource Managers) survey highlights that the over 50 worker has a number of expected advantages including experience & knowledge, professionalism, work ethic & productivity, lower turnover and in most cases even lower healthcare costs.

In that same survey nearly 40% of HR Managers predicted that the loss of talent resulting from retirements or departures of workers aged 55+ would either be a problem or a crisis for their organization over the next 11-20 years.

Perceptions however may be very different, both from the hiring company and the younger generation employees already in the workforce.

So how do you as a baby boomer ensure that you appear attractive enough to a company that they want you and your younger colleagues want you on their team?

In presenting your personal brand you want to emphasize 5 key points to a hiring manager or recruiter to get HIRED;

  1. Highlight your market value – Over the years you will have gained a wealth of experience, much of it on the job and in real life situations. This has tremendous value to an organization who does not want to be reinventing the wheel or make costly mistakes.
  2. IT Skills – You cannot get away from the fact that you need to have a certain level of technology savvy and understanding. If you feel that your IT knowledge is lacking make the investment in some courses and training to get up to date. Or hire your teenager or grandchild to show you!
  3. Reverse Mentor Let the hiring manager know that you are open to learning from younger team members. While you can likely be a great mentor to them, you can show real collaboration and teamwork by being open to having them share their expertise, likely complimenting yours.
  4. Energy – There may be concerns that the older you are the less energy you might have. Share how you keep fit and active, be willing to join social company groups and get involved.
  5. Dress – Your image can say a lot about your personal brand. You might not suddenly want to be wearing sneakers and a baseball cap but check out the dress code of the hiring company before your interviews. If it’s smart casual the three piece suit can stay in the closet along with your 50 ties.

In working with younger colleagues you want to understand how they like to work and adapt how you do, to accommodate a hybrid way of operating. Have your personal brand be seen as their BFF;

Brainstorm – Younger workers are often more out of the box thinkers and enjoy the brainstorming creative environments versus a boomers willingness more to go it alone.

Flexibility – That boomer single-minded approach and performance driven measurements does not sit so well with younger workers. They are looking for more collaborative cultures and teamwork where group wins are celebrated more.

Fun – There is always an opportunity for more of your personal brand to bereflected at work. Bring part of your interests or passions to work and make it part of your brand. This can sometimes end up becoming part of the team brand and ultimately impact the corporate brand.

The 50+ old CEO of boutique accounting firm WithumSmith+Brown in the US is the driving force behind getting the firm recognized as a national award winning place to work, in part with fun representation of the firm, such as theirUptown Funk video.
The report concludes “The 50+ segment of the workforce continues to be the most engaged age cohort across all generations. 65% of employees aged 55+ are considered engaged based on survey data, while younger employee engagement averages 58% to 60%. The level of employee engagement has implications for both retention and business results. It takes only a 5% increase in engagement to achieve a 3% incremental revenue growth.”

For a $5 billion company that can mean an increase in revenue of $150 million.

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