Are you running out of time to get your nose pierced?

I have three sons, two of whom just graduated from college.  They can do anything right now!  If they wanted, they could fill a backpack and walk the earth. No one is going to stop them, in fact, many will congratulate them for taking this leap while they’re young.

In just a few years, people won’t say that.  They’ll tell them it’s crazy and you’re going to hurt your career, etc.

I’m a few years older than my sons (turns out that’s how it works!).  I have a feeling that I’m getting to an age where I no longer can make a change in my career path.

Before you start commenting with things like, “Tim, age is a state of mind”, or “You can do anything you want”, or “Follow your passion”.  Stop it. I’m a grown-ass man.  I like to think I’m an adult, although my wife and kids question that frequently. I have adult obligations: mortgage, college tuition, kids to raise, health insurance.

I can’t just go off and polish rocks.

We all get to certain points in our life where you can no longer just go do ‘it’. Whatever ‘it’ is for you. I feel like I’m at a point where I can’t change careers, not because I don’t think I could, but because society doesn’t look well upon middle-aged dudes looking to change careers. Something is now wrong with me if I wanted to change careers. BTW, I don’t want to change careers, I actually think what I do is pretty cool. Or hip. Or Hella. Or whatever the kids are saying.

If I decided to go back and become a nurse, right now, at my age, with all of my responsibilities, people would say something is wrong with me. You know what? I would think there was something wrong with me.

My question is more around what is ‘that’ time when if you’re going to do it, you better do it now?

For traveling the world: I think it’s 18-22 yrs old, or after 60.

For completely changing careers: I think you have to do it around 30-35 years old. Later, and you just look like your reaching. (I think most people won’t agree with this, but it comes from my recruiting background and how hiring managers look at older candidates who have made this move)

For having kids: this one has changed a bit, but before 40 seems safe. Otherwise, you’re just tempting science to give you problems. One caveat, if you’re adopting, I’ll push out this age because those kids just need someone who will love them.

For completely your high school or college education: I’m really open on this one. I would say anytime before death! I’m a huge advocate of lifelong learning!

For having grandkids: After 45 years old for sure. If you have grandkids prior to becoming 45, you did something wrong as a parent.

For getting your nose pierced: 17-28 years old. Yeah, I’m looking at you 37-year-old mom with the kid with a mohawk not wearing his seatbelt in the back of your Ford Mustang.

So, hit me in the comments with your age ranges on when you think it’s no longer socially acceptable to change careers or do any of the other things listed. And, yes, I get it, I’m old and you can do any of these things at any time, and why are you judging. Because I can, it’s my blog, go start your own, Karen.

Finding Qualified Diverse Talent is NOT Your Issue!

During 2020, I’ve spoken to a lot of leaders who are concerned with their diversity recruiting. Every single one of them will say something like, “Tim, we just can’t find the ‘qualified’ diverse talent we need!” Sound familiar? Feel familiar?

I’m not a diversity recruiting strategy expert. I leave that to my friend, Torin Ellis. I do think I’ve got a bit of knowledge when it comes to overall recruiting, though.

When I break down the response I get from most leaders, regarding diversity recruitment I usually have one cringe, and one response. “Qualified?” What do you mean by that? I hear it as, you can find plenty of diverse folks interested in coming to work for you, but none of them, or few of them, are actually qualified to work for you. Is that how you read/hear that?

It makes me cringe a bit because what you’re actually saying is we don’t have a supply problem, we have a training and development problem, but you don’t even realize that. You could have your perfect diverse mix of employees if you just invested a bit in training and developing these great hired into great employees. But, you don’t see the value in that, which makes me think you probably don’t see the value in a diverse workforce, to begin with.

What I actually say to them is this, “You don’t have a diversity recruiting problem. You have a diversity pay problem because finding diverse “qualified” talent is easy. Finding ones that will accept your job, culture, location, and/or average to low pay is really hard!” 

Finding talent has never been easier in the history of humanity. We have more technology and tools than ever before. Finding is easy. Recruiting is hard..

Successful recruiting takes some skill. A success recruiter will find the “qualified” diverse talent you are looking for and then they’ll do a few things:

  • They’ll get them interested first. They will make them feel desired and wanted by the organization. By the hiring manager. By the team. Being Desired is a powerful drug!
  • Next, they’ll discover what that talent actually desires in their career. Quickly, efficiently, like a sniper.
  • Then they’ll make a determination: 1. Are we going to meet those desires. or 2. We won’t meet those desires.
  • One, you obviously move on to screening, assessing, etc. Two, and you move on to giving something back to this person. “I can’t help you right now, but I’ve taken notes and if I have anything that ever comes close to meeting what you need, I’m going to contact you back.” 99% of recruiters will never say that to a potential candidate.

Honestly, about 25% of the time when you tell someone “I can’t help you, but…” they’ll actually state a desire to keep going. You taking the potential away will make some reveal they actually have an interest. Doesn’t mean you will still move forward, but it’s a nice outcome.

I can easily find you “qualified” diversity talent. Don’t think so, call me. I can find anyone. The problem we’ll run into is that some of that talent is rare and will cost a premium to get. It’s a simple economic proposition, you can buy talent or build talent. They each have their costs and benefits. I find most organizations claim they want to hire diverse talent, but aren’t doing what it will take to make it happen.

What is the Perfect Diversity Mix for your Organization?

This is a question I think many executives and HR and TA leaders struggle with. SHRM hasn’t come out and given guidance. ATAP has not told us at what levels we should be at with our diversity mix. So, how do we come up with this answer?

Seems like we should probably be roughly 50/50 when it comes to male and female employees. Again, that’s a broad figure, because your customer base probably makes a difference. If you’re selling products and services mostly women buy, you probably want more women on your team.

The more difficult mix to figure is when it comes to race. Should we be 50/50 when it comes to race in our hiring? Apple has taken it on the chin the last few years because of their demographic employee mix, and even as of this week, are still catching criticism for having only 1/3 of their leadership team is female, and only 17% of their entire team being black and Hispanic. 55% of Apple’s tech employees are white, 77% are male.

So, what should your diversity mix be?

The most recent demographics of race in America show this:

  • 61.3% are white
  • 17.8% are Hispanic/Latino
  • 13.3 are black
  • 4.8% Asian

Some other interesting facts about American race demographics:

  • 55% of black Americans live in the south
  • White Americans are the majority in every region
  • 79% of the Midwest is white Americans
  • The West is the most overall diverse part of America (where 46% of the American Asian population live, 42% of Hispanic/Latino, 48% of American Indian, 37% of multi-race)

So, what does this all mean when it comes to hiring a more diverse workforce? 

If 61.3% of the American population is white, is it realistic for Apple to hire a 50/50 mix of diversity across its workforce? I go back to my master’s research project when looking at female hiring in leadership. What you find in most service-oriented, retail, restaurants, etc. organizations are more male leaders than female leaders, but more female employees than male employees.

What I found was as organizations with a higher population of female employees hired a higher density of male employees as leaders, they were actually pulling from a smaller and smaller pool of talent. Meaning, organizations that don’t match the overall demographics of their employee base have the tendency to hire weaker leadership talent when they hire from a minority of their employee base, once those ratios are met.

In this case, if you have 70% female employees and 30% male, but you have 70% male leaders and only 30% female leaders, every single additional male you hire is statistically more likely to be a weaker leader than hiring from your female employee population for that position.

Makes sense, right!

If this example of females in leadership is true, it gives you a guide for your entire organization in what your mixes should be across your organization. If you have 60% of white employees and 50%, female. Your leadership team should be 60% of female leaders.

But!

What about special skill sets and demographics?

These throws are demographics off. What if your employee population is 18% black, but you can’t find 18% of the black employees you need in a certain skill set? This happened in a large health system I worked for when it came to nurse hiring. Within our market, we only had 7% of the nursing population that was black, and we struggled to get above that percentage in our overall population.

Apple runs into this same concept when it comes to hiring technical employees because more of the Asian and Indian population have the skill sets they need, so they can’t meet the overall demographics of their employee population, without incurring great cost in attracting the population they would need from other parts of the country to California.

Also, many organization’s leaders will say instead of looking at the employee base we have, let’s match the demographic makeup of the markets where our organizations work. At that point, you are looking at market demographics to match your employee demographics. Again, this can be difficult based on the skill sets you need to hire.

If I’m Apple, I think the one demographic that is way out of whack for them is female hiring. 50% of their customers are female. 77% of its employees are male, but only 33% of their leadership is female. It would seem to make demographic sense that 50% of Apple’s leadership team should be female.

Thoughts? This is a really difficult problem for so many organizations, and I see organizations attempting to get more ‘diverse’ in skin color without really knowing what that means in terms of raw numbers and percentages.

What are you using in your own shops?

I voted for an elderly white man! #YesIDid #vote2020

I’ve written a ton about ageism on my blog. Let’s face it, I’m a 50-year-old white dude. Yeah, I know I love higher 40’s, but still, it is what it is. Ageism is a real problem in hiring. I’ve written often of my support for older workers and them being the most undervalued talent in the marketplace.

That being said, I’m not super excited about hiring a white dude over 70 to be my President. I also wouldn’t be super excited at hiring a black man or woman over 70 to be my President.

Does that make me ageist? Yeah, probably it does! I think it was the broadway musical Avenue Q that said, “we’re all a little bit racist” and I’m saying we’re all a little bit ageist!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and my grandma and my aunts! They are wonderful dear people! I love spending time with them and explaining things like TikTok and how you don’t have to keep a VCR around any longer. They would do anything for me!

I back the sugar daddies that can grab a girl 40-50 years younger than them, just because they have a ton of money. Wait, no I don’t, that still gross! Like way gross! Stop it!

Being a middle-aged white dude (assuming I live until I’m 100) I was hoping for a selection of candidates that was younger and more diverse. Maybe someone in their 40s! Maybe a female! I don’t know, maybe a Hispanic or Asian! Someone who spoke as I spoke. Someone who viewed the world in a longer-term sense than like I might die before this speech is over.

Call me ageist, if you want. Cancel me. Whatever.

This is our fault. Younger people, like me, are the ones to blame. We allowed this to happen because we don’t get out and vote and say, “Wait, Grandpa, go back home and stop acting like you can run the most powerful country in the free world! We don’t even let you drive long distances any more!” We didn’t show up to vote when it wasn’t the “big” vote. We waited for all the older people, who actually pay attention to this shit, to do the voting, and then we bitch and moan we don’t like the choices!

I think it’s time we just came to the conclusion that, as Americans, we just really like old white dudes! The facts are the facts! The data doesn’t lie! Look, we all have a flavor and apparently, America’s flavor is old, white, and male. Some people get really upset by this, but then go and pick another old white guy. Even Obama, choose an old white buy to be his running mate because he knew the flavor we like. You really think Obama wanted to hang out with Biden!? He could have had someone super cool! He could have had Oprah or Beyonce or Chris Rock, Anyone!

So, go vote for your old white guy today and be happy you were given the flavor you’ve purposely decided you wanted.

 

 

Does Your Hiring Process Have Diversification Bias? (Diversifi-what!?!)

One of the really great things that have happened in 2020 is the giant spotlight D&I has gotten in organizations, especially around hiring a more diverse workforce. Obviously, organizations have been working on this for a while, but with limited success.

What researchers are discovering is that many organizations might have “Diversification Bias” in their hiring process. What is Diversification Bias?

Diversification bias describes the tendency to choose more variety—to diversify—when making a simultaneous decision, and to choose less variety when making the same decisions sequentially.

For the non-technical definition, we tend to hire more diversity when we hire a bunch of people at one time, verse when we hire one person every once in a while.

This actually then gives a really good explanation around why so many organizations struggle to increase their diversity hiring because most of us don’t hire a bunch of people all at once. Most organizations have one opening for let’s say an Accountant. When that hiring manager goes to hire, they’ll most likely hire someone who is similar to them.

Now, if that same hiring manager was going to hire 3 Accountants, they are forced to look at that panel of hires and they’ll notice that everyone looks the same, thus increasing the chances they’ll offer positions to a more diverse set of candidates. I’m not saying that our traditional way of hiring is appropriate, in fact, it’s just another form of bias, it’s just a researched explanation of why this is happening.

How can we hire a more diverse and inclusive workforce? 

Let’s be honest for SMB organizations this will be difficult because you’ll never really have the headcount numbers to do any type of mass hiring, so SMBs have to have a special focus on each hire and why each decision is being made, if they want to move the needle. For larger organizations here are some tips:

1. Understand your turn over data by position and require hiring managers to hire in multiples verse one hire at a time.

2. Ensure you have a diverse and inclusive interview panel where every person on the panel has an equal vote.

3. Understand your market demographics by position and make the organization aware of where you are falling short. Great you increased your D&I hiring by 18%, but if it’s mostly in an area where you already had great diversity, you really haven’t done anything to solve your problem. Also, if your market demographics tell you that there are 15% diversity candidates in a certain segment, and you are meeting or exceeding that number, executives should know your successes. I find often executives will say, “well we need to be at 30%” without knowing what that really means for the skills you’re hiring.

Awareness and focus solve a lot of issues.

Here’s the reality. Some of your hiring managers believe that hiring a D&I candidate is a risk. They believe that a diversity hire won’t perform as well. Is that bad? Hell, yes! But it’s also reality. So, when they hire one person at a time, they are less willing to take a “risk”, in their eyes, on a diverse candidate. Again, that’s their Diversification Bias, among others, showing up.

We fight this battle on multiple fronts. We address biased hiring manager behavior when we know it’s happening, but we can also address it by changing our own processes and making it easier for hiring managers to make the right decisions.

The more you know.

This One Factor is Reducing Your Diversity Hiring by 30%!

Employers discriminate in hiring. This is a fact. It’s been a fact for generations. It’s the main reason anti-discrimination statements show up on job postings. That and it’s the law for Public employers and Government contractors who are required to have these statements. Many private employers use these as well to show they don’t discriminate in hiring.

For fifty years we’ve seen these statements on job descriptions and job advertisements. Recently, two Economists from the University of Chicago did a study looking at the impact of candidate behavior when these statements are added to a job posting and their findings were shocking!

In their study, the two economists posted advertisements for an administrative assistant job in ten large American cities. Of the 2,300 applicants who expressed interest, half were given a standard job description and the other half were given a description with an equal-opportunity statement promising that “all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, colour, age or any other protected characteristics”.

 

For racial minorities, those who received the pro-diversity statement were 30% less likely to apply for the job—and the effect appeared to be worse in cities with white majorities (see chart). In a follow-up survey, the prospective applicants said the statement prompted worries that they would be token diversity hires.

30% Less Likely To Apply!!! 

What the what?!?!

This isn’t a study that was done decades ago. This was done in the past twelve months!

So, what should we do? 

One thing the study found that had a positive impact on increasing diversity application is to show your senior executives, including your CEO, talk in a ‘real’ transparent way on the impact that diversity has on your organization.

No, not some overly-produced puff piece about how we are all part of the same rainbow. Include video on your career site with your CEO telling stories about how D&I isn’t just a marketing tactic, but how it’s really impacted the organization in a positive way.

Have diverse employees ask the CEO question that gets to the heart of where D&I is in your organization. Don’t be afraid about keeping this conversation open and maybe a bit uncomfortable. The more real, the more candidates will understand that you’re really trying to make a difference.

If you really want to make sure you’re not missing great minority applicants who are skipping even applying to you, embed these videos right into your job postings!

Don’t think that when you put an “EEOC” statement at the end of your job posting is letting a diverse candidate pool know you’re a great place for them to work. They don’t buy it! You have to be better than that!

What if we only hired based on job interest? A Job Lottery!

I heard about a very cool way that some schools are beginning to select student governments. Think about how the normal student government is selected. Some student government advisor, usually the school’s government teacher, makes an announcement for student government elections. Any student interested can throw their name into the hat, and start campaigning.

Then, reality hits.

The most popular girl decides she wants to run, and then the star quarterback decides he will also run, and the drum major of the student marching band puts her name in, it becomes a whos-who of the student body, all looking to butter-up their college applications. If you’re not popular or have a built-in voting base (school marching bands have a way of swinging elections if they elect in mass), you have zero shot at getting elected.

Now, if we changed from elections to a lottery system, every single person who has an interest in being a part of the student government now has an equal chance of being a part of the student government. Do you like this idea or not? (Listen to Gladwell’s podcast to see how this really plays out, it’s fascinating!) 

Most people’s initial reaction is not positive about a lottery. We want to have our vote. Our say! A lottery seems random. The very worst person might win the lottery and then we are stuck! Truth be told, we are awful at selection! We are bad at selecting politicians. We are bad at selecting employees. Humans are just bad at knowing what’s best for them.

Think about how we select our President. If we had used a lottery to select the President all these years, half of the U.S. Presidents would have been female! A good portion would have been African American, way before Obama! We probably would have had a Hispanic President!

What Hundred.org found is that selecting student governments via lottery actually has produced a ton of leaders that school teachers/administrators, and students didn’t even realize could be great. We never gave them a chance, and they lived ‘down’ to our expectations. But, when chosen via lottery, they rose to the occasion. Also, just because we ‘elected’ the Prom Queen to be Student Class President, doesn’t mean they’ll be good, in fact, just as many that are good, suck!

Now, let’s take this in another direction. What would happen if we did a “Hiring Lottery”? Instead of going through all the interviews and such, we just have people show interest, and then we pull a name out of a hat? Do you think it would work?

Let’s add one thing. What if we had AI go through each person who showed interest and made sure they met our qualifications to do the job? Would you have buy-in then? We had 100 applicants who meet the criteria of the job, we spin the ping pong balls and pick one, and Welcome to ACME Inc., Mary! You won the job lottery!

What do you think Mary’s chances of being successful are? 50/50? Lazlo Bock, in Work Rules, says Google was only 1% better than 50/50 in their selection, so it would seem like 50/50 would be a really strong success rate for your hires!

I have a strong belief that with many of our roles, especially those that are low-skill, no-skill jobs, a hiring lottery would actually be considerably more efficient and eliminate all bias, and would probably produce more applicants for organizations. Also, when considering lower-skilled jobs, “job interest” might be the most important criteria to consider!

Could it work in skilled professions? I think it would probably work exactly the same, it’s just a harder sell to executives since they have skills and want to desperately believe those skills matter over someone with similar skills!

Tell me what you think! Would you be willing to hire via a Job Lottery!?

Is it okay to be biased for underrepresented communities in hiring?

I’m a big podcast listener. It’s one of the reasons we started HR Famous because we loved the format! One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is The Prof G Show with Scott Galloway.

If you aren’t familiar with Scott Galloway he’s a New York University professor of marketing and hugely popular. He’s a liberal and rails openly against Trump and also his own industry, Higher Education. I’m a moderate and he’s so freaking smart, I could care less about his political leanings, I just get smarter listening to him.

Besides being a professor, he has started and exited a few technology companies, sits on boards, has school-aged kids, and talks a ton about the stock market.

On a recent pod, Elitism: Money vs. Influence, he gave his top 3 attributes the top-performing employees of the companies that he has started. These are:

  1. Most likely Female. “First they were female. If they were male I couldn’t say this but it’s okay because as long as you are biased for underrepresented communities your okay, but we try and ignore that…” (42:03 in the pod)
  2. Graduate from a world-class university. Ivy League, Penn, Michigan, Stanford, Berkley, Vanderbilt, etc. “Better schools matter…more applicants…start with better core human capital…better screening.”
  3. Athletes are very successful. They understand teamwork, discipline, they can endure and push themselves harder. “Someone who can finish an Ironman isn’t lazy”, says Galloway.

So, Professor of NYU, former business owner, and thought leader says it’s okay to be biased in selection.

I’m not sure I agree we should ever be biased in our hiring selection practices, but Galloway points out a reality in our culture. As long as we aren’t biased towards the majority, we will look the other way and ignore it.

What Galloway is saying is not different than how the vast majority of hiring managers are making their final selections. They take a look at past and current performance and they make some educated inferences about what those top performers have in common. Based on this knowledge, it will shape their hiring selection. Does this, or could this, lead to bias? Yes.

Does it make it wrong?

That’s the big sticky question, isn’t it?

We want to say, no, it’s fine, continue to hire the females if those are your best performers. But, just because your current females are your best performers doesn’t mean they’ll be your best moving forward, or that maybe one of the males will be even a better performer.

Flip the scenario.

Galloway now tells us that one of the three attributes for high performance is they are “male”. Do we have a problem with this now? Most likely, you do have a problem with it based on hiring equity issues, broadly, but it’s hard to say specifically since maybe this organization doesn’t have gender equity issues.

Want to know what Inclusion is difficult when it comes to organizational dynamics? It’s because what Galloway laid out is exactly what every organization lays out. The difference is, it isn’t always friendly to the underrepresented community.

Like I said, regardless of your feelings on this one subject, Galloway’s podcast is money! It’s on my must-listen to pods each week.

Give me your thoughts on this in the comments?

Do you pay a larger employee referral bonus for Black Engineers?

I know a ton of HR Pros right now who have been charged by their organizations to go out and “Diversify” their workforce.  By “Diversify”, I’m not talking about diversity of thought, but to recruit a more diverse workforce in terms of ethnic, gender, and racial diversity.

Clearly, by bringing in more individuals from underrepresented groups in your workforce, you’ll expand the “thought diversification”, but for those HR Pros in the trenches and sitting in conference rooms with executives behind closed doors, diversification of thought isn’t the issue being discussed.

So, I have some assumptions I want to put forth before I go any further:

1. Referred employees make the best hires. (Workforce studies frequently list employee referrals as the highest quality hires across all industries and positions)

2. ERPs (Employee Referral Programs) are the major tool used to get employee referrals by HR Pros.

3. A diverse workforce will perform better in most circumstances, then I homogeneous workforce will.

4. Diversity departments, if you’re lucky enough, or big enough, to have one in your organization, traditionally tend to do a weak job at “recruiting” diversity candidates (there more concerned about getting the Cinco De Mayo Taco Bar scheduled, etc.)

Now, keeping in mind the above assumptions, what do you think is the best way to recruit diverse candidates to your organization?

I’ve yet to find a company willing to go as far as to “Pay More” for a black engineer referral vs. a white engineer referral. Can you imagine how that would play out in your organization!?  But behind the scenes in the HR Departments across the world, this exact thing is happening in a number of ways.

First, what is your cost of hire for diverse candidates versus non-diverse candidates? Do you even measure that? Why not?  I’ll tell you why, is very hard to justify why you are paying two, three, and even four times more for a diversity candidate, with the same skill sets, versus a non-diverse candidate in most technical and medical recruiting environments.  Second, how many diversity recruitment events do you go to versus non-specific diversity recruitment events?  In organizations that are really pushing diversification of the workforce, I find that this figure is usually 2 to 1.

So, you will easily spend more resources of your organization to become more diversified, but you won’t reward your employees for helping you to reach your goals?  I find this somewhat ironic. You will pay Joe, one of your best engineers, $2000 for any referral, but you are unwilling to pay him $4000 for referring his black engineer friends from his former company.

Yet, you’ll go out and spend $50,000 attending diversity recruiting job fairs and events all over the country trying to get the same person.  When you know the best investment of your resources would be to put up a poster in your hallways saying “Wanted Black Engineers $4000 Reward!”.

Here’s why you don’t do this.

Most organizations do a terrible job at communicating the importance of having a diverse workforce, and that to get to an ideal state, sometimes it means the organization might have to hire a female, or an Asian, or an African American, or a Hispanic, over a similarly qualified white male to ensure the organization is reaching their highest potential.

Workgroup performance by diversity is easily measured and reported to employees, to demonstrate diversity successes, but we rarely do it, to help us explain why we do what we are doing in talent selection.  What do we need to do? Stop treating our employees like they won’t get it, start educating them beyond the politically correct version of Diversity and start educating them on the performance increases we get with diversity.  Then it might not seem so unheard of to pay more to an employee for referring a diverse candidate!

So, you take pride in your diversity hiring efforts, but you’re just unwilling to properly reward for it…

3 Ways You Can Extend the Work Lifecycle of Older Employees

One of the biggest biases we have as leaders is ageism. If you’re 35 years old and running a department and you are looking to fill a position on your team that will be your righthand person, the last thing you’re looking for is a 55-year-old to fill that spot! That’s just me being real for a second.

You and I both know that 35-year-old hiring manager is looking for a 25 – 28 year old to fill that spot

That’s mainly because at 35 you’re still basically stupid. I was. You were. We think 35ish is the pinnacle of all knowledge, but it’s really when we just start learning for real.

So, we have this core issue to deal with in workplaces right now. Our leaders are mostly Millennial and GenX, and Millennials are increasing into these roles at a rapid rate. Because of the Boomers leaving in large amounts, there aren’t enough talented young workers to replace the knowledge gap that is being left. So, we are left grappling with what we think we want (youth) with what really needs (experience!).

A recent study at the University of Minnesota found that employers need to add programs to focus on older workers:

The study argued that programs aimed at training workers won’t be enough to satisfy the state’s need for workers between 2020 and 2030. New policy directives and incentives may be needed, including offering pathways for baby boomers to delay retirement, drawing in workers from other states and supporting immigration from other countries

“There’s all this focus on workforce development, but none of it is guided to older workers,” said Mary Jo Schifsky, whose business, GenSync, advocates for meaningful career pathways for older adults and who helped initiate the study for the Board on Aging with the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “We need career pathways for older workers just as much as we do for younger workers.”
 
In the U survey, managers ranked baby boomers high on loyalty, professionalism, engagement, and their commitment to producing quality work.
Employers need to find ways to extend the Work-Life Cycle of the older employees that work for them until the workforce, technology, and retraining programs can catch up to fill the void. Most employers are only focused on programs that are looking at younger workers.
So, what can you do as an employer to extend the life cycle of your older employees?
1.  Have real conversations with older employees about what they want. Most employers shy away from having the ‘retirement’ conversation with older employees because they think it’s embarrassing or illegal. It’s not. It’s a major reality of workforce planning. “Hey, Mary, Happy 55th Birthday, let’s talk about your future!” Oh, you want to work 18 more years! Nice! Let’s talk about a career path!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard a hiring manager say, “I don’t want to hire him because he’s 59 and is going to hire soon.” Well, I spoke to him and he wants to work until he’s 70 (11 years) and our average employee tenure is 4.7 years. I think we’re good!
2. Stop, Stop, Stop, believing that all you can do is hire full and part-time FTEs into roles. If Mary, my 63-year-old financial analyst wants to give me five more years of work, but only wants to work three days per week, in role ‘traditionally’ we’ve only had a full-timer, I’m taking Mary for three days! HR owes it to our organizations and hiring manager to push them out of the box when it comes to schedules and how we have always filled positions. 3 days of Mary is probably worth 3 weeks of an entry-level analyst in the same role!
We do this to ourselves. I hear it constantly from hiring managers, “HR won’t allow me to do that.” Why? Have you asked? No, but HR doesn’t allow us to do anything. We need to come to our hiring managers with solutions and let them see we are open to doing whatever it takes to help the organization meet its people’s needs.
3. Develop programs and benefits specifically designed to retain older employees. I work with a plant manager who developed an entire engineering internship program around having his retired engineers come back and work three days a week with interns and paid them ‘on-call’ wages for the days they weren’t there, so interns could call them with questions at any time. These retired engineers loved it! They could come to do some real work, help out, and still have a great balance.
It went so well, he kept some on all year, on-call, and partnered them with younger engineers who needed the same support and assistance from time to time. The on-call rate was pretty inexpensive, the support and knowledge they got in return, was invaluable.
It all comes down to flexibility on our part as employers to extend the life cycle of our older employees. We no longer have this choice where we can just throw our older employees away and think we can easily replace them. We can’t! There physically isn’t anyone there!
This is about using each other’s strengths. Younger leaders will be stretched and we need to help them stretch. We need to help older employees understand their roles. In the end, we need to find a way where we can all see each other for the strengths we bring to the table, not the opportunities.
It’s our job as HR professionals to work on how we can extend the life cycle of each of our employees.