Work It – How do you retain talent as your workforce gets older?

At 69, tech consultant R. Subramaniam has no plans to retire full-time yet.

He intends to continue working for as long as possible, just like the many other older workers here who remain economically active and healthy past retirement age.

Currently, he works at technology consulting firm AnSemble, where he keeps abreast of new technological developments and mentors younger colleagues.”

Subramaniam is an excellent example of an older yet energetic and knowledgeable worker providing value in the tech consulting field in Singapore.

Yet age bias in the workplace remains all too real. Like discovering a rare butterfly, we react with awe when an older worker defies expectations.

But diversity in age, as in any dimension, brings richness. As workforces grey, organizations must learn to nurture and leverage their rare, vibrant talents.

According to management consultant James Root, research on 40,000 global workers uncovered six common motivations that shape employee needs.

As we age, priorities evolve.

While compensation drives most younger workers, older employees value autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Companies retaining older talent create roles tailored to these motivations.

Just as younger digital natives require different management, 55+ workers have unique inclinations.

Like sunflowers turning their faces, they seek interesting work and flexibility.

Rigid, one-size-fits-all models yield to adaptable systems like phased retirement.

And rather than plateauing, many wish to grow in new directions.

Companies can enable “career passports” allowing employees to gain broad experience.

Of course, some roles require physical vitality.

But technology and design thinking open possibilities.

And many jobs depend most on institutional knowledge and emotional intelligence, which appreciate over time.

Beyond skills, older workers offer institutional memory, loyalty, and mentorship.

As Root advises, view employees not as ages and roles, but as unique archetypes and capabilities. (Take this quiz to find out yours)

Meet them where they are, as you would any member of a diverse team.

Help them re-skill and carve paths aligned to their motivations.

You’ll be rewarded with their rich harvest.

Want to dig deeper into managing a multi-generational workforce?

Don’t miss our conversation with James Root on the Work It podcast.

We unpack key insights and innovative examples that will change how you see your colleagues.

Because workers like R. Subramaniam are running circles around millennial stereotypes every day.

Listen to the episode on Apple, OvercastSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or your favourite podcast platform.
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