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Citisales studies Older Workers—Research Highlight

by Jacquelyn B. James, Jennifer E. Swanberg, Sharon P. McKechnie

November 2008—A longer average life span has created the need for income and health care to a later age; to meet these needs, more workers are choosing to work well past the traditional retirement age of 62-65 years old. As a result, the number of older workers aged 55+ has increased dramatically. Yet due to the recent emergence as a significant part of the workforce, little is still known about the needs of this age group with regards to the modern workplace.

The CitiSales Study of Older Workers examines the unknown needs and attitudes of this “new” employee demographic. The research study sheds light on this group of employees, showing them to be engaged in their work to a greater extent than many other workers, with higher emotional well being than and a self-perceived physical health equal to their younger counterparts.

Overall, the CitiSales Study shows that managers and employers generally consider this group more reliable and punctual than younger groups. In addition, many older workers value flexibility in work schedules and health coverage that adjusts to fit their needs.

Differences between this older worker demographic and other groups in the workforce lie in their requirement of flexible health care and the necessity for some managers to adjust their attitudes and workplace manners to accommodate the Baby Boomer generation. However, employers are also cautioned to remember that this group is also far from homogenous, consisting of individuals with varying needs and expectations. The widening age span in the workforce makes it is increasingly difficult for managers and employers to address the needs of their employees without discriminating based on age.

The CitiSales Study demonstrates that “providing high quality jobs for hourly workers is a win-win – good for both employees and employers,” notes researcher and author Jennifer Swanberg.

Adjusting workplace practices to fit the needs of this important new group will maintain employee loyalty while allowing employers to take advantage of the unique attributes this group brings to the workforce. “Improving employees’ work environment not only means more engagement, but less work-life conflict. And research has shown that means more customer satisfaction,” adds Swanberg. Working with all worker demographics is in the best interests of the company as well as the worker.

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