A big thanks to online marketing and social media expert Erin Read Ruddick from the firm Creating Results who turned me on to this report. If you get a chance subscribe to Mature Marketing Matters, the blog of Creating Results where Erin is a contributor. It's a great blog.
I'll summarize the research from Pew.
The American work force is graying because older adults are staying in the labor force longer, and younger adults are staying out of it longer. And this recession is accelerating this trend.
According to one government estimate, 93% of the growth in the U.S. labor force from 2006 to 2016 will be among workers ages 55 and older.
Yes the recession plays a role. According to the Pew Research, nearly four-in-ten adults who are working past the median retirement age of 62 say they have delayed their retirement because of the recession. Among workers ages 50 to 61, fully 63% say they might have to push back their expected retirement date because of current economic conditions.
What's interesting, as this blog has repeatedly pointed out, is that a major reason behind the aging workforce, beyond demographic and economic factors, is that older workers want to work (see image ).
Fifty four percent of workers ages 65 and older say the main reason they work is that they want to. Just 17% say the main reason is that they need the paycheck. Older adults are less inclined now than at any time since the 1960s to give up on the working life.
Older workers are also the happiest workers. Some 54% of workers ages 65 and older say they are "completely satisfied" with their job, compared with just 29% of workers ages 16 to 64.
Age is not the only demographic characteristic of the work force that's changing.
The labor force participation rate of women has essentially flattened out at 59%, about 13 percentage points below the current rate for men. Even in an era of growing gender parity in the workplace, the work/family trade-off continues to be much more complicated for women than for men. The Pew Research finds that nonworking women are nine times as likely as nonworking men to cite the tug of family responsibility as a key reason for not having a job. The survey also finds that only a small share of the public -- 12% -- thinks the ideal situation for a mother of young children is to work full time outside the home.
The impacts of these trends is enormous. We wrote about some in our HRmarketer blog post Will Boomers Retire or Keep Working: Two Opposing Views.Read the Pew research - it is a fascinating read, especially for companies that provide "work life" or "family friendly" employee benefits.
A related Business Week article Reward Older Workers With What They Really Want gives more insight into this trend and discusses how Boomers are poised to retire traditional notions of retirement:
"[aging workers] not only want their employers to recognize their enthusiasm; they expect them to support it by shelving outmoded shibboleths about where, when and how work gets done. Boomers overwhelmingly want modular work that is deeply flexible in terms of hours, location and even life stage...".
The Business Week article points out that aging Boomers are willing to accept a radically "remixed" set of non-monetary rewards to achieve it. They rate four other forms of compensation—a range of new experiences, a great team, challenging assignments and recognition for a job well done—as at least as important as money.
This "rewards remix" is both challenging and liberating for talent managers. It's challenging because it means letting go of cash as the prime motivator and tangling with the difficult task of redesigning incentives to include more complex, holistic rewards.