Leveraging on the talent of older employees


ORGANISATIONS should take advantage of the talent pool of older and more mature employees, or better known as “un-retirees”, to make up for the shortage of skilled and experienced workers.

ENGENDER Consultancy Omna Sreeni-Ong said generational diversity is the way to go for organisations to remain relevant in a competitive market.

“More companies should actively look into hiring ‘un-retirees’ or ‘boomerang workers’, as the older workforce possesses the education, skills and experience to perform successfully in many critical jobs,” she said during a panel session at the Asian Association of Management Organisations 20th triennial conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

During the session, Omna also discussed strategies that companies and human resources (HR) managers can employ to make the most of all the vital sources of talents.

She said it is pertinent for any organisation to value mature workers and develop strategies to retain and engage them, as a response to the exodus of talents, especially due to migration.

The panellists also concur that mature workers, generally defined as workers over age 50 or 55, have the experience and skills that are honed during decades of their employment.

The issue is particularly relevant now, as a result of the robust economy and historically low unemployment rate globally which has left many organisations scrambling to hire and retain qualified workers.

Institute of Managers and Leaders CEO David Pich said retaining talented mature workers while recruiting new faces is simply good business practice for most organisations.

“Older adults are valuable for organisations today and will become more valuable in the next few decades.

“Many have pursued further education and expanded their skill sets during their careers and in periods of unemployment or underemployment,” Pich said.

The year 2050 is expected to be a pivotal time in Malaysia’s history, as there will be more Malaysians aged 65 and above than pre-working Malaysians aged 15 and below.

According to estimates by the United Nations, the country’s population is expected to decline for the first time in 2070.

“There will not be enough younger workers for all the positions any organisation needs to fill, particularly those requiring advanced manufacturing skills or advanced education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Pich added.

Malaysia’s demographic change is a real concern because it is progressing at a much faster pace than many other countries.

By 2020, those aged 65 and above will represent 7% of Malaysia’s population, and by 2045, the country will become an aged nation when 14% of the people are aged 65 and above.

A working paper by Dr Amjad Rabi, senior social policy specialist with Unicef Malaysia that was published in April 2018 stated that it took France 115 years to move from an ageing to an aged nation but it will take Malaysia only 25 years to do so.

Founder and CEO of Leaderonomics Roshan Thiran said HR managers must play a leadership role during this transition period, by positioning their organisations in advantageous positions to explore new opportunities that focus on mature workers as valuable source of talents to meet future staffing needs.

Roshan said employers will need to overcome their fears of change and move beyond traditional workforce sources.