Managing an Aging Workforce Term Paper

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Aging Workforce

The workforce in America is rapidly aging. This rapidly aging workforce creates challengers for organizations that must manage an aging workforce. The purpose of this discussion is to explore the challenges of managing an aging workforce within any given organization. This topic is of particular interest because many older baby boomers are retiring while other are choosing to work well passed the retirement age and managers must devise ways to manage such a workforce.

Employers must understand the challenges that may arise, as an aging workforce becomes part of the fabric of the organization. If employers do not attempt to understand and implement solutions for managing an aging workforce their organizations will suffer greatly. Let us begin our discussion be explaining why the aging workforce is such an issue in the current workforce.

Description of the organization and problem

The organization that we will focus on during the course of this discussion is the federal government. According to an article entitled "An Aging Workforce: A Time of Opportunity or a Time of Calamity" between the years 2001 and 2006 one out of every five employees will retire (Tobias 2001). These retirements will create a huge disparity within the federal government and will bring into question how an aging workforce should be managed. As we all know, changes in technology and communications have created varying skill sets amongst the generations. For instance, many baby boomers came into the workforce when mainframe computers were the newest technology. On the other hand, today's generation is configuring wireless networks that can be accessed anywhere at any time.

On the other hand, the aging segment of the workforce also has valuable work experience that cannot easily be replaced. They also possess managerial and leadership skills that the younger generation has not yet acquired. For this reason, many employers both federal and private have been attempting to keep and recruit retired persons or those close to retirement.

The golf that exists between the two generations will cause managers to seek out ways to aid these generations as they work together. Many in the younger generation need the mentorship that the older more experienced generation can provide. On the other end of the spectrum, the younger generation may play an active role in training the aging workers in the newer technologies. In any case, managers must pay close attention to the management of the aging workforce in the future.

Definitional Framework

During the course of this discussion, certain words may present themselves on more than one occasion. For instance, the words baby boomer will appear quite often as it refers to the aging members of the American workforce. The word baby boomer refers to those individuals that were born between the years of 1945 and 1965. Baby boomers are the generation that is aging rapidly and having a profound impact upon the workforce in both the public and private sector.

Another word that will occur frequently throughout this discussion is management. For the purposes of this discussion management refers to the process by which organizations handle employees, facilitate change in an organization and meet the overall goals of the organization. More specifically the discussion will focus on how management is facilitated in the midst of an aging workforce.

The final word that needs to be defined is workforce. Workforce is defined as those individuals that are gainfully employed either on a part time or full time basis. For the purposes of this discussion the term workforce does not apply to those individuals that are self-employed or do not have permanent employment.

Management of aging Workforce (Discussion and Approaches)

According to an article found in the Journal, Public Personnel Management explains that the exodus of baby boomers from the workforce will have a noticeable impact by the year 2010 (Doverspike et al. 2000). In addition, the number of skilled laborers will decrease dramatically.

The article also asserts that few companies are actively recruiting older workers. The authors contend,

Companies are increasingly interested in retaining or rehiring older workers as a means to anticipate or compensate for labor shortages. The decision to rehire and recruit Older Baby Boomers should be based in part on an understanding of the characteristics of this group. Boomers are more educated than any previous cohort, have accumulated a great deal of wealth, and are healthier than previous generations. The positive levels of health are likely to encourage workers who are given proper incentives to stay in the workforce or return to the workforce, as healthy individuals are more likely to delay retirement as compared to those who are in poor health. Financial comfort is also a predictor of interest in continued employment and the decision to retire. For those who need financial aid, benefits and salary are likely to be determinants of job choice. For those who are financially secure, social and other nonfinancial incentives are much more likely to be successful in recruiting than a purely financial appeal (Doverspike et al. 2000).

Doverspike et al. (2000) goes on to insist that the proper management of the aging workforce will begin with the appropriate recruitment tactics. The article contends that any organization looking to recruit older workers should advertise in a manner that is appealing to that segment of the population. For instance, the article reports that some employers have used photographs of older workers in recruitment advertisements (Doverspike et al. 2000). The authors assert that this tactic will let the older recruit know their services are valued and needed (Doverspike et al. 2000).

Doverspike et al. (2000) asserts that advertisement for recruitment should also be placed in locations that are visited by older individuals. These places may include senior centers, temporary agencies, adult education centers, and company retiree fairs (Doverspike et al. 2000). Recruiters have to be certain to venture into the places where seniors are present as opposed to the places that are frequented by younger people.

Another issue involves the overall impressions that the worker has about the company when they are interviewed. Quite often interviewers should reassure the older prospects that their experience is needed by the company. The article asserts that many older workers are concerned about age discrimination that exists within some organizations (Doverspike et al. 2000). According to a book entitled Managing Diversity in Public Sector Workforces age discrimination is a very real problem in the America workforce. The book explains that discrimination based on age is strictly prohibited under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The act asserts that it is "illegal for private businesses to refuse to hire, discharge, or to otherwise discriminate against an individual, in compensation or privileges of employment, between the ages of forty and sixty-five. The act was amended in 1974 to apply to federal, state, and local governments." (Riccucci 2002)

The upper age limit for this law was increased to seventy in 1982.

The article insists that managers should take the time to design interviews that are catered to the needs of older recruits. The authors contend that,

In designing an interview to attract older workers, companies can benefit by reviewing and revising the specific content of interviews. Interview content refers to the type of questions in the process, the actual choice of the interviewer, and the description of the company given during the interview. When describing the company to the applicant during the initial interview, a firm should emphasize the aspects of work which are most appealing to older workers -- the flexibility of hours, scheduling freedom, social aspects, and the money and health benefits involved are important factors in the decisions of many older workers.[21] Such attempts to tailor interviews to older workers are a positive step in making the applicant feel that the organization will accept the Older Baby Boomer (Doverspike et al. 2000)."

Managers definitely need to understand the needs of baby boomers before they can begin the recruitment and interview processes. Managers must make a conscious effort to support baby boomers that are rehired, or decide to delay retirement. In addition, managers should focus on utilizing all of the experience that the boomers have in the workforce.

Another issue that an organization must consider when managing baby boomers is the difference between older baby boomers and younger baby boomers. An article entitled "Segmenting Baby Boomers" explains that there is a measurable difference between these two sets of baby boomers. The article contends that the older baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1955 were influenced the most by the civil rights movement, Vietnam and the advent of the birth control pill.

The article asserts that this segment of the baby boom generation came into adolescents during the Vietnam War. Because of the turmoil that they were exposed to during adolescence, they learned that they had control over what happened in society and they questioned the social structure and authority figures. The article contends that this segment "developed determinism, optimism and a "can do" attitude."They integrated Woolworth's lunch counters, shut down universities, stopped…[continue]

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