Thursday, December 25, 2008

How to Manage Older Workers

The work force is aging as baby boomer move towards retirement. Gen X managers need to learn how to motivate and manage this talent pool of older workers. Both generations have very different views of the other and will need to learn how the other generation operates.

1. Throw out all your assumptions.
Older workers are individuals just like everyone else in the group. Treat them as such. They are more adaptive and try to learn new things. Rather they appreciate the work of young generations.

2. Remember the range of ages.

Treatment would not be the same. Treatment for a seasoned manager of 35 would not be treated the one who is 21-year old right out of college. Don't think the 15 year gap is any less in your older workers. A worker at 55 and a worker at 70 have different goals and needs. As a manager, you may need to look at groups getting ready to retire (55-62), retirement age and still working (62-70), and older worker who want to keep active or who need to work (70+). Each group presents different management challenges.

3. Communicate
Assuming that older workers need to be well versed with all topics is a wrong notion. All do not belong to the same background. Clarity should be made for every job to attain success.

4. Value their life experience.
Value and respect their experiences. Encouraging team members to take advice from the older workers.

5. Train them.
Older workers need training as much as younger workers - just as much, just as often. The subject of the training may be different, but the need is the same.

6. Meet their security needs.
Older workers probably need benefits more than the younger workers. They need medical coverage, vision care, and financial planning. Company's policies should be made accordingly.

7. Motivate them.
Manager's key job is to motivate their employees. Older workers have different motivational "hot buttons" than their younger counterparts. Opportunity for advancement is probably less important than the recognition of a job well done.

8. You don't have to "be the boss".
The older workers grew up in a hierarchical society. Most of them were bosses at some point too. Get on with leading the department and don't waste time posturing.

9. Be flexible.
Older workers, depending on age group may want flexible hours. or a shorter work week. Their talent and technical skills need to be recognised. Mentality is that all older workers want to go home early. However, some may be motivated by working the same long, hard hours that they have always done.

10. Use them as mentors.
Allow them to coach and encourage the young workers. Most older workers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they would love to pass on. Give them the opportunity to do so and your entire organization will benefit.

Ref: HR Funda

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