Why employing the elderly is the future-forward step for companies across the nation?
Years ago, retirement was not only an expectation, it was a highly coveted status. Working hard through adulthood so that one could kick back and spend one’s golden years focusing on hobbies and other passion projects, such as golf and gardening, was the goal people all seemed to work towards.
Yet today, working past retirement age seems to be the latest trend. More and more senior citizens are avoiding retirement, in favor of employment, for as many years as their physical and cognitive abilities will allow. This, however, doesn’t mean that the working world is ready or willing to keep seniors on their payroll. While 80.2 percent of people in Israel aged 25-64 are employed, this number significantly dips to just 16 percent, after the age of 65.
In our current economic environment, where the cost of living seems to increase on a daily basis. senior citizens who spent their adult years working blue-collar or other average-paying jobs simply cannot live off their retirement funds. Nor can they be expected to age with grace, with the old age pension provided by the National Insurance Institute amounting to a laughable 1,596 NIS per person, or 2,398 NIS per couple, each month.
As life expectancy in Israel and around the world continues to grow, and innovations in healthcare allow people to remain healthier and more independent for longer, it is clear that changes must be made to the current system of employment and/or support for senior citizens. Some companies have already jumped on board, more comprehensive, country-wide policies and practices are still needed.
Employing the elderly is in everyone’s best interests
In many industries, such as in healthcare, retirement is a function of age, rather than a reflection of willingness to work or capabilities. As such, the Israeli government is currently losing billions of dollars each year, simply because they are NOT employing senior citizens. Rather, new, younger, and less experienced employees must be integrated into the workforce, even though it’s common knowledge that it’s far more costly to recruit and train new talents than it is to retain existing employees. What’s more, senior citizens don’t possess the “Millennial Mindset;’ they’re far more likely to stick with a position and promote the company’s goals that someone far younger, who is more focused on self-fulfillment and satisfaction on the job than they are on bringing home a consistent paycheck. The senior generation’s sense of commitment and duty is unmatched.
Employing the elderly isn’t just about generating ROI for Israeli companies. Indeed, providing senior citizens with jobs for as long as they’re capable and willing to work, is good for them as well. Working longer has been proven to provide senior citizens with the purpose and stimulation they need to remain in good cognitive and mental health, for longer. This is because the brain, like any other muscle, must be exercised, in order for it to remain in good condition. Depending on the jobs they fill, seniors can also benefit from physical activity that keeps their other muscles flexible and functioning for longer periods of time, helping to stave off illnesses and general deterioration associated with aging.
Additionally, employing senior citizens enables the elderly to support themselves as they age, rather than being forced to scrimp, do without basic necessities, or turn to charities or relatives for help (if even possible). In this way, working seniors can be more independent and less of a burden on their loved ones and the Israeli government, for longer.
Fighting ageism must become a national priority
In the current turbulent economic environment, ageism within the workforce must be eradicated. If companies truly want to combat the ongoing talent shortage and allow the elderly generation to grow old with grace, policies preventing forced retirement based on age alone, and other discriminatory practices must be eradicated.
Indeed, baby steps are already being taken, with reports being sent to MKs’ offices, outlining the steps that need to be taken, and highlighting those organizations that are willing to go the extra mile for the generation of men and women who made Israel what it is today, such as the 50+/- organization, the “Mid-way” program, and others.
To be truly innovative in 2022, it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and empower those employees who’ve been there all along – senior citizens. How will you fight ageism and integrate the elderly into your workforce?