The Value of Time and Experience 65 is the New 40

Employers of all sizes and across all industries struggle today with recruiting and retaining employee talent. While not yet a crisis, it has become a top priority for organizations to be creative in sourcing prospective employees through non-traditional paths and this includes accessing a growing pool of senior adults.

In 2002, employees ages 50+ made up 25% of the workforce. In 2012, they made up 32% and by 2022 are projected to be 36%. During the last decade, the number of employees ages 50 to 59 grew by 28% and ages 60 to 69 grew by 71%. An astonishing 72% of employees, over age 45, plan to work past the traditional retirement age – some due to necessity, but many out of choice.

A 2015 study by Aon Hewitt for AARP titled, A Business Case for Employees Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience, documented why attracting and retaining experienced employees ages 50+ is critical to the success of high-performing organizations. This study looked at:

  • The business impact of changing labor force demographics;
  • The value of employees age 50+ to the organization;
  • The economics of retaining and hiring employees age 50+;
  • What age 50+ employees seek in an employer; and
  • How leading employers are addressing these issues.

Crucial study findings indicate this is the most engaged age cohort across all generations, which has positive implications for retention and overall business performance. “It takes only a 5% increase in [employee] engagement to achieve 3% incremental revenue growth.”

In a survey conducted by Society for Human Resource Management, nearly 40% of human resources professionals predicted the loss of talent resulting from retirement or other scheduled departures of employees age 55+ would at best be a significant problem and more likely a crisis for their organization over the next 11 to 20 years. The study focused on labor costs associated with hiring or retaining more employees ages 50+ in 4 industries: healthcare, energy, financial services and retail; and, compared the costs to the value considerations of hiring those employees. For the ages 50+ employees, although current and future financial needs may be reasons to stay in the workforce, psychological and social fulfillment also play a critical role. These findings counter the misperception that older employees are significantly costlier and establish that organizations benefit from the recruitment, engagement, and retention of older employees.

Healthcare tends to have the largest percentage of employees at or near the traditional age of retirement. To compound the issue, we are facing large projected shortages of nurses and physicians. According to projections released by Georgetown University in 2015 and The Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is estimated to have a shortage of more than 190,000 nurses by 2020 and 46,100 to 90,400 physicians by 2025.

AARP reviewed programs implemented by three healthcare organizations; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Scripps Health in San Diego, and WellStar Health System in Atlanta. Beth Israel offers an innovative “Retire and Rehire” program, which allows employees who are approaching traditional retirement age to continue working with a reduced workload and gradually transition to full retirement. However, there is the option for a retired employee to transition back after six months of retirement into a different temporary or project-oriented role. Scripps Health offers generation-specific benefits which include educational sessions for employees who are managing the challenges associated with the “sandwich generation,” which are employees who are juggling the needs of both children and aging parents. In 2009 WellStar initiated its “Employer of Choice” program and today one-third of their workforce is ages 50+ years and the average age is 43. WellStar has created a work environment that appeals to older employees and the 50+ age cohort has the highest level of engagement across the entire organization.

Collectively, the research organizations, studies, and human resource associations cited here as well as many others provide considerable feedback to support recruiting and retaining a senior adult workforce. These employees consistently demonstrate high engagement and low turnover, which impacts an organization’s bottom line. Additionally, there are many less tangible benefits such as industry knowledge, strong work ethic and sound judgment.


Peter Goodspeed, with his BA Engineering Degree and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, heads up the Executive Placement Services Division of HealthTechS3.

With over 30 years of experience building high performance healthcare teams Peter is highly skilled and attuned to understanding the unique challenges of today’s hospitals and healthcare environment.

Peter is a seasoned Executive Consultant; equipped with many years of sourcing experience albeit for a rural hospital or for a multi-hospital system.

“We had an impossible position to fill and Peter Goodspeed made it possible. Thank you and am enjoying the new employee!” – Larry Goss, CEO Barrett Hospital