The Benefits of an Intergenerational Workforce

Studies show that both younger and older employees benefit from each other’s presence.

Interestingly research is also showing us that older workers use less sick leave than younger workers – only 25% of over 50’s took sick leave in the past 12 months as compared to 50% of workers in their 20’s.

The Kauffman Foundation found that business creation by older adults increased 60% between 1996 and 2012, and entrepreneurs older than 45 were the most successful demographic creating sustainable businesses.

As workers get older they seek more flexible working and this ability to get flexible work is slowly increasing especially with the advent of the sharing economy. Uber reported that 25% of its drivers were over 50 years old and overall they have more older drivers than younger drivers under 30 years’ old.

10% of Airbnb’s hosts are over 60, driven by the desire to generate additional revenue (which can serve as an alternative to a reverse mortgage) and to stay connected, social and active.

There is an enormous economic benefit to supporting an older workforce given trends of shrinking working-age populations.

By 2050, working-age populations will have shrunk by 25% in the advanced economies of South Korea, Japan, Germany and Italy; and the workforce will contract by 21% in less affluent Russia and China. To put this in stark relief, by 2020 China will have 212m fewer workers available.

Globally, this reduction in labor force over the next 50 years could reduce GDP growth by up to 40%.

As such, a number of countries, particularly in Europe, are developing innovative public policies.

  • In Sweden, employers can qualify for a subsidy of up to 75% for employing older workers;

  • Germany is opening up sabbaticals for its older workforce

  • The Dutch government has introduced age discrimination legislation and policies to promote flexible working.

  • Japan, having been one of the first ‘super aged’ societies, provides part-time options for older workers and encourages them to be mentors.

  • In the UK, groups are mushrooming that match employers with 50+ workers while Age of No Retirement aims to have a conversation about creating meaningful and successful longer working lives.

Shawhn Dunavian

Futures Foundation Publication.


Shawhn DunavianComment