6 Tips for Leveraging Your Aging Workforce

Much has been written recently about the aging workforce. Consider the Stanford Center on Longevity, which writes that, in recent years, the American labor force has aged dramatically. Some major aerospace companies are experiencing the phenomenon that 50% of their engineers are eligible for retirement. In the oil and gas industry, there is a crisis of talent that is referred to as “The Great Crew Change.”

“Think about ‘elder proofing’ your workplace.”

CEOs must be prepared for the surprises that come with an aging workforce. Here are 6 tips to help employers ensure they will always have enough skilled workers to fill every position.

1. Get to know your workforce. Most HR systems keep very little data and reports are stock. Do you know what the average age of your critical skilled workers is? Have you projected what it will be in five years? Do you know what the supply and demand is for those workers? Is your HR Department planning far enough ahead? In a recent speech I co-presented with Jason Averbook, a human capital expert, he successfully proved LinkedIn knows more about a company’s workforce than the companies for whom they work. Your ERP system may not have this capability, or you may have multiple systems spanning across the U.S. or globally. What you are going to need is a new breed of HR software known as “HR Analytics,” a tool for the big data era. These tools can access, slice and dice your workforce and even run “what if” scenarios.

At PDS Tech, we have used Equifax Workforce Solutions to look at compliance scenarios for the Affordable Care Act, analyze the difference in the quality of an employee depending upon whether they were a referred candidate or not, and looked at demographics data of various skill sets over time. Identify the key skill sets that are essential to your future competitiveness and study their aging and movement within and without your organization.

2. Invest in ergonomics. By 2019, it is projected that people over 50 will account for 35% of the workforce. Think about “elder proofing” your workplace. Falling at 50+ is very different than falling at 20, and the consequences of claims are much higher. Bill Spiers, a risk control expert at The Lockton Companies, in referring to the effect of baby boomers on workers compensation, calls it a “safety tsunami.” The cost of injuries measured by analyzing “loss runs” shows fewer claims for age groups over 40, but much higher average cost-per-claim.

Cash Nickerson is President and CFO of PDS Tech, Inc., a position he has held for over 11 years. With over $400 million in annual sales, PDS is one of the largest engineering and IT staffing firm in the United States. He is the author of BOOMERangs, Engaging the Aging Workforce in America.