It is not uncommon for mature workers to face setbacks in the work environment that come as a result of the social stigma associated with ‘older employees’. Younger employees may think that the mature workers are ‘too traditional’ and are not agile enough to meet changing demands, therefore leaving them out of important meetings. Some mature workers may even feel uncomfortable if they have to report to someone who is much younger than them. Similarly, young managers may lack the experience or confidence to manage an older, more experienced coworker, resulting in communication gaps.
With the changing economic landscape, layoffs or changes to the job scope have come about as a result of business restructuring and streamlining. According to the 2017 Labour Market Report, the percentage of workers aged 50 and above who were retrenched rose from 32% in 2016 to 36%. For that reason, mature workers are more likely to face challenges in staying employed – with many expressing genuine concerns of being made redundant by the younger workforce or replaced by job automations.
However, there remains a silver lining for mature PMETs. In an interview last year, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said that Singapore ranks among the top countries in terms of the employment rate of older workers aged 55 – 64. He said the figure has steadily increased over the last 5 years, from 64% in 2012 to 67.3% in 2016. A 2016 survey by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices also revealed that 70% of employers are willing to redesign job scopes to accommodate older workers.
Mature workers – as a number of research has continue to show – are also known for their tenacity, experience, knowledge and loyalty. To stay relevant, they need to have confidence to challenge generational stereotypes and mindsets and learn how to navigate in a multigenerational workforce.
Adopt a Lifelong Learning Attitude
It is important to be agile when working in a multigenerational workforce. People from different generations have different life priorities which may impact their perception of work. For example, people from Generation X are more eager to progress in their career while Generation Y may be focused on attaining work-life balance as they start a new family.
In order to remain as competitive as the younger generations, mature workers are encouraged to have an open mindset and be constantly curious to learn new things. Through interactions with the younger generations and training programmes, mature workers can continue to learn new skills and knowledge to improve productivity and efficiencies at work.
Mature workers can also learn from the younger generations on how to better collaborate and share ideas through innovative platforms, embrace technologies that can bring about greater efficiencies or acquire new and in demand skills such as data analytics. They can also look at the wide array of learning and development programmes through SkillsFuture and Adapt-and-Grow to upskill or re-skill themselves in order to safeguard employability at old age.
Be a Mentor to Others
As professionals who have worked in the industry for a long time, mature workers have the experience and knowledge to mentor the younger generations. These mentorship programmes can either focus on nurturing their soft skills that are gained through work experience such as team management or dealing with conflicts; or on the technical skills and industry knowledge that have proven to be invaluable through time.
Mature workers can also participate as a trainer in learning and development programmes conducted by their employers so that they can share their work experience, best practices, product or process knowledge and industry insights with their coworkers from Singapore or other countries.
Be Flexible to Change
Mature workers need to adopt a positive mindset and be flexible when thinking about what their career will look like as they age. It is essential for mature workers to always stay up to date with the latest employment trends and news to know what the current in demand skill sets are, and take responsibility for re-skilling and upskilling themselves.
In addition to searching for career progression opportunities within the same industry, mature workers would also have the advantage of transferring the skills and experience they have acquired over the years to other sectors that are short on talent such as healthcare and technology – hence they need to be agile and open enough to consider job options outside of their current industry.
The Road to Success
It is up to the mature workers to break the social stigma as much as it is the younger generations’ responsibility to do so. Mature workers should focus on staying healthy and fit for work, keep abreast of the latest hiring trends and adopt a continuous learning mindset. Skills upgrading is the best safeguard for all employees during this period of economic and job transformation, which is why we strongly encourage mature workers to continually upskill, re-skill and deep-skill to enhance their employability.
Hence regardless if you are a mature talent or someone who has just entered the workforce, as long as you take charge of your professional development, there are plenty of opportunities out there for you to explore. After all, age is just a number.