By the end of 2018, the population in Malaysia is expected to increase to 32.4 million. However, the younger population is not sizeable enough to offset the ageing population. This will have an inevitable impact on the business performance and economic growth in the future. While there is a lot of stigmatisation around having a larger ratio of older employees in the workforce, the truth is everyone stands to benefit from their contributions.

Organisations in Malaysia are increasingly starting to recognise the positive impact mature workers can have on the workforce, as well as the economic value they can bring to businesses and the society.

mature workers are choosing to return or stay in the workforce beyond retirement

For many people who have devoted years of their lives to work, retirement may not only come as a relief but something to look forward to. However, we are starting to see more retirees return to work or choosing to stay in the workforce.

One of the most cited reasons why older workers choose to work beyond the retirement age is to take the extra time to save more money. According to a 2017 survey conducted by the University of Malaya’s Social Security Research Centre, close to half of the respondent above the age of 60 continue to work - with most of them feeling that their savings are insufficient for them to retire comfortably.

Other reasons why mature workers choose to return or stay in the workforce for a longer period of time are so that they can stay busy and keep their minds active, or have an opportunity to mentor the young.

how can mature workers stay employable?

The responsibility to keep mature employees in the workforce lies with the government, employers and most importantly, the employees themselves. Experienced mature employees who want to remain employed beyond the retirement age may be more encouraged to stay in the workforce if they have access to subsidised courses or tax rebates. However, we do not recommend that they wait for this to happen, but instead, take control of what they can do now to stay employable.

here are four things mature workers can do to remain employable:

  • Upskill - Employees can take advantage of the learning and development programmes offered by their current employers to improve technical skills or expand their knowledge. If that’s not enough, mature workers can choose to invest in short-term courses to further deepen their capabilities.
  • Reskill - There’s never a better time to try something new or pursue an interest. If you have no experience in the field that you want to explore, keep an open mind and take it as an opportunity to stay active and learn something new. Sectors such as healthcare and education are always on a lookout for talent to support the market’s growing demand.
  • Network - Mature workers would have built an impressive portfolio and network from the number of years they’ve committed to their careers. Job seekers who are looking for a change in job responsibility or to pursue a better work-life balance can reconnect with their acquaintances, ex-colleagues, friends and social networks for new opportunities.
  • Have an open mindset - We would also encourage job seekers to consider different job options such as freelance, contracting or part-time work rather than limit their search to permanent roles. If you have already exited the workforce for a couple of years and are considering a role in a different industry, it’s best to have a realistic expectation of what your career will look like upon your return. You should be prepared to accept a more junior position or a lower salary.

what can employers benefit from a multi-generational workforce?

a diverse workforce that’s made up of talent from different walks of life bring many benefits.

As the generation that grew up in an ‘age of technology’, younger employees are naturally more adept at using digital solutions and will often propose innovative ways of working to improve efficiency. Companies stand to benefit from their fresh ideas and perspectives as the younger workforce is quick to embrace and leverage technology to reduce time spent on administrative tasks and achieve higher productivity.

Equally, mature workers bring with them a great deal of knowledge, experience and skills which they have acquired, developed and refined over the years. They tend to have a strong sense of responsibility and dedication, as well as strong institutional knowledge of the organisation’s culture and way of working. Companies can benefit greatly from retaining their mature workforce and implementing strategies for them to transfer critical business knowledge and skills to the next generation before they retire.

why mature workers are important to your workforce:

  • Strong work ethics - How the experienced professionals act and behave in the workplace have a powerful influence on the younger generation. Our past research has shown that mature workers tend to demonstrate higher loyalty, commitment and a stronger work ethic. When younger workers are exposed to these ethics from the beginning, they are more likely to mirror and adopt the same behaviour when in the company.
  • Experience - Mature workers can mentor the younger and less experienced workforce in many ways, especially in soft skills such as better time management planning, communication skills as well as problem-solving competency. Their experience can also lend itself to helping the younger staff set more realistic career expectations.
  • Customer Insights - The experienced workforce mirrors the needs and wants of the organisation’s mature client and customer base. Having a mature worker in the team can give the company a stronger understanding and insights of the people you want to do business with.

To fully capitalise on the benefits a mature workforce can bring, companies will need to re-examine existing attitudes and look beyond generational stereotypes. It doesn’t necessarily follow that mature workers need to vacate posts for younger people. Employers who have been highly successful in managing and engaging the mature workforce have adopted the 4Rs strategy - re-employment, redeployment, retraining and redesigning of current work processes - to make the workplace a friendlier and healthier place for everyone.