Covid-19 will rob the labor force of older workers. Organizations who benefit from the experience of their longtime employees will find it harder to bring them back. And organizations who rely on older workers for their strengths (like emotional equilibrium and reliability) will find them harder to get.
I’m reading news about analysis of worker behavior in light of the pandemic. One compelling study lays out why older workers face a serious crisis. The Schwartz Center describes how older workers are both being forced into early retirement and facing worse prospects for returning from it. In a similar finding, Penn State sees older workers as facing more impact from Covid-19.
On the other side of the challenge, a reputable poll in the UK shows that older workers believe they face more significant long-term risks. They are delaying retirement as a result of the pandemic.
Much of this impact is typical and to be expected for any more vulnerable segment of the workforce. We also see disproportionate impact on younger workers. Those straight out of school in particular face damaged prospects. However, as I noted a few days ago, older workers face significant challenges in that:
- They’re more likely to want to work in the (now-riskier) office full-time
- They’re less likely to be familiar with current technologies like meeting solutions
However, digital work leaders can respond to this. Older workers also find it easier to work at home. (They have more area for a home office. They have less need to share the space with kids). They can absolutely master new technologies. Make sure they can turn to familiar ways of contacting the help desk (don’t kill the phone line!) and their peers (spark more power users!)