We’re going to be working longer, have multiple jobs in our lifetime and most of all have a multi-generational workforce, according to research into the future world of work.

According to the recent CEDA report, an increase in life expectancy and decreased fertility rates will see an increase in the proportion of the population aged over 65 over the next 50 years.

While futurists can’t agree on how long we will live, one thing is for sure we will be living longer and in turn working longer.

Lynda Gratton, one of the world’s leading researchers on the future of work, suggests in her research that in the future, we may well live until we are 100 years old, in which case we will have to work well into our 80s in order to be able to afford to live in retirement.

Even if we discount Gratton’s estimates by 10 per cent and assume we may live to 90, the issue remains, we will be working longer.

This all means people are likely to stay in the workforce longer leading to a wider-range of ages being represented within an organisation.

Simply put the days of two to three generations making up a workforce will be a thing of the past. For the first time, we will start seeing workplaces with around five generations working side-by-side and we will start to see more mature workers in the workforce.

As someone who has been working in this industry for the past seven years and in charge of sourcing the right talent for my clients within this area, I see this as a positive for companies within supply chain and logistics.

The benefits of mature workers in your team are endless. It’s often under-discussed and under-reported how difficult it can be for mature workers to find new roles even during upswings in the business cycle.

In the past, the majority of mature workers within the industry were placed in contract and contingent roles as a lifestyle alternative to permanent full-time roles.

I think this is a great step in the right direction, but with regards to the future image of the new workplace, we need to make further inroads in this area.

We need more mature workers in permanent roles in the logistics industry. Based on my experience and research, here is why we need more mature workers in the workforce.

Experience saves your company money

Supply chain and logistics is about critical thinking, long term industry knowledge and vast stakeholder relationships.

Dr Sheela Yadav is an associate professor of business at the University of Indianapolis and has been researching the effects of hiring a workforce of 50 plus. In Indiana, the transportation, distribution and logistics industry is actively recruiting older workers with demonstrated managerial skills from other fields. Dr Yadav studied this case study as part of the broader research project.

“Much of logistics or supply chain management is about critical thinking and common sense,” Dr Yadav said.

“Older workers bring broader perspectives to the table. They are used to making savvy decisions, making trade-offs, and understanding how to balance costs and benefits. We would do well to make use of the human capital we have in our older workers.”

Experience should be seen as capital for the business

Based on experience and feedback with my clients, mature aged workers are usually more satisfied with their job than their younger counterparts.

Three leading researchers at Harvard (Dychtwald, Ken; Erickson, Tamara, and Robert Morrison) put a report together called “Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills & Talent.” In their research they found 69 per cent of workers aged 55 and up reported the highest overall satisfaction with their jobs, compared with younger workers.

They were more likely than younger workers to say their pride comes from work and a career, and less likely to say they have too much work on their plates.

We all know happy workers generally means less conflict in the workplace and higher productivity.

They are more adapted for creativity and problem solving

Researchers report that ‘practical creativity’, the solving of everyday problems, peaks later in life. This type of creativity is especially valuable in the workplace because it draws on synthesis, reflection, wisdom, and restructuring of existing patterns to design solutions to problems.

They can help you to lower your employer turnover

AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) found in a recent report ‘The Business Case for Workers Aged 50 +’ that ‘practical creativity’, the solving of everyday problems, peaks later in life.

This type of creativity is especially valuable in the logistics workplace because it draws on wisdom, experience and restructuring of existing patterns to design solutions to problems.

They can serve as role models for younger employees

Younger workers need role models to aspire to. Mature-age workers have built up knowledge and skills during their time in the workforce, and using these skills in workplace mentoring programs can reduce staff turnover, train other employees and increase staff morale.

Furthermore, through their experience mature aged workers have knowledge and skills obtained during their time in the workforce, so they can help you to:

  • look at your business operations from a different perspective
  • improve your business processes
  • fill any skill or knowledge gaps in your workplace
  • train up your employees by sharing skills.

In my opinion, it makes good business sense to move past stereotypes and the old stigma surrounding mature workers.

As research shows, the future workforce will be multi-generational and with a strong contingent over 50 years of age.

As an industry we need to lead the way and show that this is positive and will have multi-layered benefits for the company, the workforce and more importantly for employee engagement. As far as I’m concerned, the benefits surely outweigh any stereotypes businesses have about hiring mature workers.

If your business welcomes mature aged workers, you’ll be seen as a more attractive employer to a growing proportion of the workforce in the future.

This article was originally published in My Logistics Magazine. Odette Richards is a monthly columnist for My Logistics Magazine.