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To alleviate the labor shortage, older professionals must be retained in employment. here’s how


The finance and insurance sector faces enormous pressures, including labor shortages which also affects other sectors of activity in Quebec.

However, part of this workforce leaves their jobs sometimes reluctantly, having few other options: older professionals, who feel that their needs are not being met by their managers.

As management researchers, the impact of the aging of the population on human resource management practices is crucial to investigate. My colleague Marie-Ève ​​Beauchamp-Legault and myself conducted an interview study of 19 professionals between the ages of 51 and 62 in the finance sector in order to understand what motivates them to stay in employment longer, or demotivates them from doing so.

We know that a better labor market retention of older workers is one of the solutions to alleviate the current labor shortage. But how to do it ? Our results confirm the importance of meeting their needs for skills, autonomy and relationships Thus than charitable.

Read more: What solutions to prolong the working life of older workers?

Respond to autonomy needs

Our results show that older professionals need personalized accommodations both in terms of work content (load, rhythms, tasks) and working hours and hours (exemption from overtime or night shifts, additional holidays, shared work, flexible hours, part-time).

We can think here that working entirely or partially at a distance, very common in this industry, should encourage the extension of the active life of older professionals. Obviously, the latter must be able to benefit from these practices on a voluntary basis to satisfy their need for autonomy. If these practices are imposed, they can hasten their departure.

Here are some excerpts on these subjects, from our interviewees, men and women, aged between 51 and 62 years old.

In a year, I will slow down or stop because it is clear that I do not want to continue 110%. I would like to have the possibility of working remotely, of not having to be physically in the office. If the organization is not able to meet this need, I will have to find an answer outside the organization.

An important element for job retention is work-family balance. Young people are looking for flexibility because the child is in daycare and then in school. For older people, their work-family balance is sometimes with an older spouse who is sick and needs attention.

I have a new job since last year which is a little less demanding. Before, I worked six days a week. I was offered a less demanding job […] but I still have an interesting challenge and I’m still learning.

I openly asked to slow down a year before. […] I asked to slow down, to reduce my responsibilities. I asked for part-time work, but they wouldn’t. I left.

As we know that older employees can also continue to work out of financial necessityit is important to offer them sufficient remuneration by reclassifying their positions, granting them bonuses, more or longer holidays, health insurance benefits or other advantages (financial or retirement advice, sports centres).

It is also important to review the terms of retirement (gradual or deferred retirement) or the possibility of continuing to work after retirement age (additional transition benefits, increased pensions).

Meet skills needs

As lack of skills can lead older professionals to retire early, it is important to invest in their development, offer them challenges and promotions to signal the value of their contributions.

We can then think of reviewing the content of their work so that they can maintain or improve their skills during a second career, transfers, specific assignments such as consulting, mentoring or coaching young people recruits.

I am lucky to be able to benefit from training. I try to keep myself informed precisely so as not to feel overwhelmed.

There are many people who left the organization too quickly. They didn’t have time to pass on what they knew […]. A greater transfer of skills from older staff that are of value to the organization would promote their involvement and retention.

Responding to the relationship needs of older workers

Despite the lack of empirical evidence, negative stereotypes about older workers may persist (they are less competent, resist change, have less capacity to learn) and encourage them to retire.

According to some participants, finance professionals are likely to be considered “old” earlier than those in other sectors. Faced with significant technological changes, the financial services sector may be more vulnerable to ageism, age discrimination and stigma. It is important to ensure that there is a work culture and climate where the contributions of older employees are respected and valued.

You have to know how to use their knowledge to encourage them to stay longer at work. You have to mix the generations. Otherwise, the older worker ends up dropping out a bit. He doesn’t find himself like everything he put together is no longer the same.

Respond to the need to feel useful

The participants in our study also expressed a need for benevolence, that is to say to feel useful and to make a difference by putting their experiences, skills and time at the service of others. It is therefore important to ensure that the work of older employees is meaningful or meaningful to them.

For me, what encourages me to continue is to make myself useful, to be useful for something.

At a certain age, the most important thing is to feel useful to society. This is what encourages me to continue working.

In search of new solutions

This study is not without certain limitations. Our participants are all senior professionals in the Canadian financial services sector, so the results cannot be generalized to all sectors. In addition, the behaviors of older employees depend on government measures that are not under the control of employers or employees.

Tax measures should also encourage, or at least not discourage, the extension of working life. In addition, it is possible that our members minimize or underestimate the importance of factors beyond their control and that of their employer, which may encourage them to retire or to work elsewhere or on their own. Consider, for example, the health problems of a loved one, a merger, restructuring or a massive layoff.

Employers need to find new solutions to their labor shortage problem and cater to healthy older workers who wish to continue working. Older employees want more than an economic relationship. It is important to consider their needs in order to keep them on the job market longer for the benefit of all: employees, employers and society.

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