Learning from, and Teaching, Older Workers

According to the OECD the aging US is at risk from antique policies and prejudices that fail to appreciate the benefits of a workforce of experience. It is past time that we learn to appreciate the contribution of older workers, and that we create policies that can leverage the knowledge and understanding of this segment of the workforce.

There are several things US industry should start doing immediately:

  • Create mentoring opportunities so that knowledge transfer becomes a key contribution factor and is measured in terms of younger employee retention and ability to execute.
  • Develop programs that cater to the older workforce, such as additional time off, even if they are not employees with seniority. Give them time to spend time with families.
  • Increase opportunities to learn. Consider reciprocal mentoring, were the younger employees share their knowledge of technology with older workers.
  • Enable the development of communities with management responsibilities so that alternative power structures can evolve that have a meaningful impact on the business.
  • Develop flexible work programs that include creative ways of dealing with time and location.
  • Pay for experience. Pay bounties to employees leaving the company if they leave behind documentation about their relationships with people, their responsibilities within processes and how they discover and apply information in their daily work. For employees that take on mentoring activities, pay extra as a reflection of the performance of those they guide.