Top-Shelf Tip No. 231:

"Highly-engaged employees make the customer experience. Disengaged employees break it."

Timothy R. Clark

Ten Ways To Engage A Mature Workforce

We're working in a multi-generational workforce. As a leader, this often makes it complicated to effectively engage your team. What motivates one group might not necessarily inspire another. So how can leaders ensure all team members are motivated to deliver their best?

Janice Sutherland, founder of This Woman Can, says leaders must not overlook the mature members of their team. As people are living and working longer, the average workforce will continue to age. That's why it's important for organizations to create a culture that embraces older workers.

In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Sutherland's 10 ways to engage a mature workforce.

1. Capitalize on the mature workers' wealth of knowledge. Look for ways mature employees mentor new or younger team members. Sutherland suggests leaders create opportunities that allow mature workers to share what they know.

2. Encourage cross-generational innovation. Each generation brings its own perspective on products and services. Cross-pollinate ideas by using the diversity in your workplace to develop innovative products and services. Remember, your workforce demographics can also reflect your customer demographics, notes Sutherland.

3. Provide flexible working opportunities. Parental leave requirements are often flipped— many older workers won't have childcare responsibilities but may have parents who require care. Sutherland encourages leaders to make some provision for this to help decrease the stress some mature workers experience.

4. Give genuine feedback and appreciation. If an employee was motivated by feedback and recognition in the past, it doesn't mean that changes as they age. There is no age limit when it comes to feeling valued.

5. Create impactful recognition programs. Pause and consider whether your recognition programs are respectful and suitable across generations. Sutherland says it's important to always take time to acknowledge everyone's contributions. Research shows older workers are more motivated to exceed job expectations than younger workers.

6. Tap into mature workers' wisdom. While being older doesn't automatically translate to strong leadership, bosses should let mature employees with experience lead, according to Sutherland. Support them in sharing their strengths, talents and leadership skills to others by assigning them special projects and overseeing teams.

7. Present stimulating challenges. Mature workers have gone through economic downturns, recessions, workplace stresses and more. They often know how to ride the storms in life. Draw upon their knowledge and maturity by giving them new work situations that will provide job satisfaction, says Sutherland.

8. Provide learning opportunities. Mature employees may not necessarily be looking to drive ahead career-wise, but they still want to learn and increase their knowledge base. Don't count them out, notes Sutherland. Make training available for them to learn new technologies and business processes and stay relevant.

9. Strive to keep health care benefits relevant and flexible. Vision and hearing problems are more likely to occur in older employees, so keep benefit plans relevant and useful, Sutherland says.

10. Tap into their network. Older workers typically have extensive networks that they have built over their careers. Sutherland says there may be opportunities to tap into their networks for recruiting, outreach or special projects.

Does your organization actively work to engage older employees? Don't miss out on their wisdom. Follow the guidance above to create a culture that engages mature workers.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Janice Sutherland is an award-winning women's leadership expert and founder of This Woman Can, an international executive coaching and training company specializing in helping women and organizations build leadership skills through executive coaching, leadership training and executive team facilitation.

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