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The biggest silver lining in a silver workforce: Learn from your older colleagues

According to recruiting experts Hays, the swelling ranks of mature workers can teach the rest of us a thing or two about the world of work – and if you are willing to listen to their insights your career will benefit. 

“Businesses must adjust to accommodate a more mature workforce, but employees too can look up to their older colleagues and benefit from their experience,” says Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays, who explores this issue in his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog.

“Sectors such as manufacturing, transport, healthcare and education have proportionately higher numbers of older workers than organisations in other sectors, and will face a significant skills shortage when they retire. But they also benefit from the depth of experience and knowledge this mature workforce brings to their jobs every day.

“Lose that knowledge and you lose a competitive advantage, which is why employers can do more to use older team members to train up younger employees, imparting the wisdom of decades of work to the new generation.

“The opportunity to exploit the talents of more senior members of staff to pass on know-how to other employees is significant. Small and medium-sized businesses, in particular, which may have limited resources to dedicate to formal skills development, often use older staff to give in-house training to their younger peers.

“As populations age and more people need to work for longer, this potential training resource should be used by companies of all sizes. Not to do so is a waste,” he said.

So what can you do to ensure your career benefits from the wisdom of older colleagues? Hays suggests you:

&middot       Find a mentor: There is a lot you can learn from mature workers who have achieved the career goals you aspire to. So find a mature mentor, either within your organisation or externally within your industry or field of experience, and tap into their knowledge when making career development decisions.

&middot       Up-skill: Many older workers want to impart the benefit of their years of experience. If there is a mature worker in your organisation who is an expert in a particular system, skill or task that you’d like to add to your repertoire, ask if they can coach you.

&middot       Learn their lessons: Mature workers who have been with your organisation for a number of years possess a great deal of corporate insight they can pass on. This ranges from lessons the business has previously learnt through to implicit awareness such as why reports are written in a particular way or who to contact for certain information.

&middot       Be aware of skills gaps: There are many sectors where a large percentage of the workforce will retire in coming years, creating a skills shortage. If you see a potential skills gap in your sector or field, now is the time to work with a mature worker to learn from them the technical knowledge that your industry cannot do without. You’ll be setting yourself up to plug the skills gap and will therefore become a valuable asset to any organisation. 

Read Alistair’s LinkedIn Influencer blog here.


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