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The rise of the ‘silver sloggers’

27 Jun 2013 - Blog

The rise of ‘silver sloggers’ working beyond 65


Tom Debenham, MD at People Insight, talks to Business Daily about the rising number of over 65s in the workplace.

The number of “silver sloggers” working at the age of 65 and over has hit one million for the first time – a number which has doubled in the past twenty years. One in ten people aged 65 and older — 615,000 men and 388,000 women — now has a job and the predictions are that this number will only rise in the future.

People Insight’s research finds some really interesting dynamics are at play here. On the one hand, employers can no longer mandate that employees retire at 65, and many that might have wanted to do so have been forced to continue working late into their sixties, for a variety of economic reasons.

Which doesn’t sound like a great combination: employers having to keep staff beyond their most productive years; people who would prefer to be on the golf course finding themselves behind a desk – and this at the expense of the career aspirations of the following generations, who find themselves waiting to fill the proverbial dead man’s (or woman’s) shoes.

But when we look at the data we collect from hundreds of employee surveys, we find a surprising result: far from being a press-ganged and depressed collection of workers, the over 65’s are actually enjoying their work more than many of their younger colleagues and more positive about their workplace: the over 65’s are 6% more engaged than the rest, and 8% more likely to recommend their company as an employer.

So rather than calling this group “silver sloggers” it would be more accurate to develop a grey power metaphor: there’s lots of them at work these days, and the good news is they’re some of the most engaged and therefore productive team members.

We need further research to understand why this generation is more positive at work, and here are some questions that this research could look to answer: Do the over 65’s find that their life is in more balance and therefore their energies at work better focused? Are they clearer about their personal goals and so more likely to find work that meets these? Are they less distracted by a steep career ladder with the accompanying bells and whistles? Are organisations ‘nailing it’ when it comes to managing age diversity? Or, perish the thought – do the over 65’s simply have a better work ethic than their younger counterparts?

Whatever the answers, there is no doubt that we can continue to learn from this older generation.

This post is reproduced from Business Daily.


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