Jan 25, 24

The 5 Ways Age 45+ Businesspeople Will Keep Creating Value for Canadian Businesses

And a New Way to Efficiently Find Clients: F/T, P/T, Contract, or Gig

 

“Ageism and age-related bias obstruct the contributions of experienced workers.” A powerful statement from Mercer. Ageism and the outdated thinking that drives it, remain far too prevalent. The fact is that most businesses are not positioning themselves very well to capitalize on what Bain consulting calls a “strategic imperative”: leveraging older businesspeople for their accumulated expertise and knowledge.

Business and HR leaders will need to update their assumptions of the cost-benefit from older workers, to fully account for the 5 ways they will continue to create value even as they age, to leverage that group of knowledge workers. And it is a big opportunity:  Scotiabank refers to age 50s and 60s businesspeople as a vast overlooked and untapped resource for companies.

 

The 5 ways older workers continue to create value:

  1. Functional expertise, which may well be hard to find, so they address the knowledge worker shortage in Canada;
  2. Knowledge and wisdom, offering higher value developed through exposure to many nuanced situations during their careers, transcending basic data and information that AI and early career staff thrive with;
  3. Soft skills, such as communication, collaboration, work ethic, which can be powerful examples to rub off on a company’s younger staff;
  4. Multigenerational teams deliver higher productivity;
  5. Cost-efficiency, since many older businesspeople are not in high cost consultancies and can have motivations to keep working beyond financial.

Note that much of this value creation actually piggybacks for free on the functional work that age 45+ are paid to complete. Before elaborating on each of the 5 ways they create value, let’s consider some of the requirements for businesses to act on this massive opportunity.

 

Ageism: Outdated Thinking that’s Been Debunked

Businesspeople can start to experience ageism by the age of 45, earlier in some sectors, as the OECD found in its October 2023 study.  Ageism remains prevalent despite the fact that, as Mercer points out, the 3 drivers of it have been debunked: older workers are not lower in productivity, not more expensive, and not change resistant or technology challenged. Studies have shown that there is no correlation between age and productivity.

So as society experiences more longevity, many of those added years of life are experienced through an extended mid-life of sustained productivity, not as extra years of ill health tagged onto the end of one’s life. It is important to realize that our ageist views are simply what we imbue others with: they are our perception of someone’s age and abilities, called their “subjective age” (how others view them), and are not necessarily attuned to their real lived experience that may be much more productive than may be apparent.

 

Business Success Factors

  1. Age-agnostic talent acquisition – focus on value creation rather than chronological age.
  2. Don’t lump age diversity initiatives into your DEI strategies – too many businesses view DEI as a nice to do, for the positive public perceptions it may create, much like how they have traditionally viewed what used to be called “CSR” and the greenwashing that went with that. Since leveraging older workers is a “strategic imperative”, it wants to be much more central to a business’ talent management plan and overall business strategy.
  3. Shared value – many age 45+ businesspeople want to keep working, especially on their own terms, for nonfinancial reasons such as purpose, activity, engagement, legacy, and being recognized as still having value, which makes them very motivated to create value for businesses.
  4. The unique talent acquisition “long tail” – as Statscan has reported, our skilled and knowledge worker “shortage” is actually more of a mismatch, meaning businesses have a hard time finding the relevant expertise they need, but that it exists “out there”. A new online services marketplace solves that challenge, as noted below.

 

The 5 ways that age 45+ businesspeople continue to add value to businesses, even as they age:

 

  1. Functional Expertise, which can Address the Knowledge Worker “Shortage”

          Of course, the entry point for creating value by any businessperson starts with their functional experience. Given Canada’s skilled/knowledge worker shortage, or                                mismatch, age 45+ businesspeople provide a ready and proven effective source to fill those gaps.

 

  1. Knowledge, Wisdom, and Judgement over AI

    Age 45+ businesspeople have extended learning curves, informing nuanced judgement from the many different business situations they have responded to. What’s known as the “DIKW Pyramid” provides a good lens to consider their value add to business. Each level adds incrementally more value. The foundation levels, data and information, generally deal with historical elements and do not take a lot of longitudinal business experience to work on. Those levels also frame what artificial intelligence excels at. The  higher value add for business is in the upper levels, knowledge and wisdom, which mainly consider future orientations, identifying how experienced business people are necessary for assessing the context, considering the potential applications, and recommending the most appropriate path forward in complex situations where there may not be a lot of relevant information available – hence the need for some “gut instinct”.

  

  

  1. Soft Skills, including Communication, Collaboration, Accountability

“The Labor Market Needs the ‘Soft’ Skills Older Workers Have”, as the American Enterprise Institute reported on findings from the Harvard Kennedy School for Social Policy. Soft skills include collaboration/ teamwork, active listening, responsibility/accountability, and patience. Businesses are finding that they cannot assume as much soft skill development among younger workers, often raised on a lot of screen time and less in-person social interaction,  than they could among generations prior. Illustrating the need for good soft skills providing a learning context, a study found that recent university graduates hired in Canada during the pandemic are struggling because they “lack basic professional skills”.

 

 

 

 

  1. Multigenerational Teams’ Superior Productivity

The OECD summarized the 6 business benefits from multigenerational teams, including making teams more productive, building a stronger talent pipeline, providing a greater diversity of skills and perspectives, and better retention of knowledge workers. The OECD estimates that multigenerational teams can increase per capita GDP by 19% in the coming decades.

  

 

 

  1. Cost-efficiency

Given their career arc and their respective present motivations, many age 45+ businesspeople would provide a cost-effective source of talent and expertise, especially if as studies consistently find, they can work on their own terms, when, where, and how much they want. Most age 45+ businesspeople are not established as consultants, but they can be valuable to access if it is made easy for them and for businesses to find them. Their cost-efficiency can derive from low overheads, not having to share revenues with consultant principles in a larger organization, and the opportunity to tap into their insights in smaller increments if only that is needed.

 

An Efficient New Way to Tap into Job Opportunities for Age 45+ Businesspeople

Elderberry.work  is a new online services marketplace which matches age 45+ businesspeople to Canadian businesses that need their unique expertise, whether full-time, part-time, contract, project, retainer, or short duration “gig”. The Elderberry.work marketplace mass aggregates age 45+ expertise, from all functional areas, seniority levels, and sectors, providing hard-to-find talent in a sort of efficient “long tail” solution for businesses.

List your expertise to be among the first to know about new job opportunities through the only online services marketplace that matches age 45+ expertise to business needs, where both expertise and businesses can browse to find respective needs of interest and can post their job requirements or list their expertise. There are no fees until you complete work for a client and get paid, when we charge a modest transaction fee.  Keep up to date with us by subscribing to our newsletter, or following us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

 

About Author David Smith

Elderberry.work founder and CEO David Smith has over 20 years of business experience, as an executive with large multinational blue chip companies, and with technology start-ups and small and medium businesses and other organizations. He has started 4 companies, including 2 consulting companies where he has done “knowledge gigs” for businesses, governments, associations, and NGOs.