Older Workers Should Watch for these Trends

by Eric Titner

Attention baby boomers — not all trends are created equal. Each year, we see a variety of new workplace trends take hold, which often vary by industry, geography and even individual demographics. One of these factors is age — simply put, there are factors in the job world that affect older individuals differently, based on their level of experience, personal needs, comfort level in a rapidly changing work environment and longevity in the job market.

Baby boomers (individuals born between 1946 and 1964), face some unique issues and challenges in the work world. This aging population possesses a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise, but is growing older in a workplace that increasingly prizes youth and vitality, and many are approaching the age where retirement is a consideration. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, approximately 29 percent of the workforce in the United States — which represents approximately 45 million workers — is part of the baby boomer generation. Although this number continues to shrink each year, it’s still a significant amount of people. Therefore, it’s worth taking a closer look at the trends these older workers can expect to encounter in today’s workplace.

More flexible work arrangements

Although this may not seem like much of a departure from the norm for younger workers, older workers who are typica! lly more used to the traditional Monday to Friday, 9-to-5 office arrangement may need some time to get used to the changing notion of what it means to be "at work." Advances in technology have made it easier than ever before to work remotely and telecommute — and older workers will get the opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility this allows.

Baby boomers who work in fields in which telecommuting is a viable option and possess the technical knowhow can expect to encounter more flexible work arrangements. This is often a good thing, allowing for a faster, easier and less expensive commute to the office — which might just mean walking into another room in your house.

Rise in contract employment

Another trend that may hit baby boomers harder than their younger counterparts is the change in how employers are hiring individuals to meet their needs. Many companies are embracing leaner approaches to staffing by using technology to get more work done with less people on their payrolls.
Companies are also increasingly relying on unorthodox work arrangements, relying more on contract, freelance and part-time workers to get things done.

These new workplace arrangements typically don’t include benefits like medical and dental insurance, which usually become more essential as workers get older, so workers are going to have to get creative and seek out alternative means for coverage. Another element missing from most forms of contract employment is retirement benefits, which will impact how workers prepare and save for retirement in the future.

Delaying retirement

A growing trend that many older workers are facing is the notion of having to delay exiting the workforce for as long as possible.

According to a recent article by U.S. News & World Report, this can be attributable to a wide range of factors, including older workers not having enough money saved, needing health insurance, desiring to stay active and productive and simply enjoying working and passing on their knowledge and skills to a new generation of employees.

These are the biggest trends older workers can expect to encounter in 2018. Those employees who will prove most successful in coping with a rapidly evolving workplace will stay one step ahead of these shifts and strategize accordingly.