New Research Will Document Company Practices and Programs to Engage Late Career Workers

The Conference Board is launching an expanded maturing workforce research initiative. The effort received generous support from the Atlantic Philanthropies USA, Inc., in the form of a three-year, $2 million grant to study the inclusion and engagement of late career workers in corporations and not-for-profit organizations.

The Conference Board will examine the practices and policies of major employers and business community leaders and related concerns and needs of today’s mature workforce. The Conference Board plans to share promising practices for creating and maintaining a workforce inclusive of all generations. Some 64 million baby boomers active in the U.S. labor force are poised to retire in large numbers by the end of this decade.

The maturing workforce initiative at The Conference Board will convene separate Research Working Groups on mature workforce issues in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Marketplace opportunities related to the aging U.S. population will also be addressed in research from the Consumer Research Center at The Conference Board.

The Conference Board work will look at mature workers in two distinct roles—as employees and as potential retirees. It will focus on problems facing mature workers, the costs and value of mature workers, the hidden values of their job satisfaction, the impact of rising healthcare costs on these workers, emerging opportunities from aging consumer markets, prospects for building a better intergenerational workplace, and models for retirement. It intends to create new strategies to help major employers leverage the skills of employees who are late into their careers. The initiative will also periodically issue timely briefings and updates.

The Conference Board took the lead in research on mature workers last year with the publication of Managing the Mature Workforce, a definitive study on how the role of the mature worker is rapidly changing in today’s workplace. The organization also published a short follow-up report (Age and Opportunity: Plan Strategically to Get the Most Out of a Maturing Workforce) in April which found that companies benefit by thinking of the issue of managing a maturing workforce as more than a negative (a problem to be dealt with). The companies who are succeeding in getting the most of older workers view the problem strategically as an opportunity for change within the organization.

The report advises that even the most basic HR strategy designed to deal with the challenges posed by a maturing workforce should include three goals: capture critical knowledge/expertise of retiring workers and transfer it; develop flexible work arrangements and benefits to suit needs of valued retirement-eligible employees; and create a culture welcoming to employees of all generations. The report also states that while 90% of survey participants in a pulse poll of The Conference Board Councils for Talent Management and Diversity executives said managing mature workers was either a very or fairly important business issue for them, only 55% had conducted a strategic workforce analysis to determine the profile of their employee populations.