The future belongs to the elderly!

Despite all the youth obsession, the future belongs to the elderly. And it is high time to take the 60+ generation seriously. Why? An explanation.

The population is aging. This is nothing new. But now that 55-year-olds already make up the largest proportion of the population in Switzerland and more and more baby boomers are retiring in droves, quite a few companies are finally starting to take the previously overlooked, ridiculed and sidelined group of senior citizens a little more seriously.

This stronger focus is driven primarily by self-interest, above all by the unprecedented shortage of staff in summer 2022. In addition to the well-known demographic development, there is currently the massive post-pandemic restart of the economy - and with it the mass search for staff that was saved during Corona. But the labor markets are empty, and not enough applicants can be recruited abroad either. This means that older people in Germany are suddenly becoming the focus of companies as potential employees. This is because there is a lack of suitable applicants, especially for management positions, according to the NZZ here.

The young old still have a lot to do

“Finally!”, many seniors will think. Because, given the increasing life expectancy and the high standard of living in Switzerland, the young old are fitter, more mobile, more active and more digital than ever before. 60 is the new 40, you often hear. Because they are a long way from a peaceful old age, from walkers and nursing homes. “I get bored just sitting at home,” says Remo U., 65, an accountant from Zurich who has been retired for six months. And he is not alone in this. 60 to 75 year olds in particular want to continue to have a job, to pass on their experiences and in doing so do something good for themselves. Because – and this has been scientifically proven – those who continue to educate themselves as they get older, are curious and mentally fit, stay healthier and can therefore also contribute more to the job market.

Even though our society is still obsessed with youth, age is by no means a disadvantage for professional success. In fact, the opposite is the case, according to numerous studies (for example in the HBR). Knowledge and experience, the main drivers of job performance, increase with age, even beyond the age of 80. No wonder that the whole world looks with respect at Warren Buffet, the now 92-year-old star investor from the USA, or that only two of the 46 US presidents were under 50 at the end of their term in office. Konrad Adenauer, the first German Chancellor and a defining figure of an entire era, was 87 when he resigned.

There is also no age limit when it comes to learning new things. 70-year-olds are more open than 20-year-olds, as was recently reported in the NZZ, based on a study by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (here). And who would have thought, start-up founders are more successful the older they are.

Companies must adapt

So what is stopping companies in Switzerland from working more with older people? There are certainly enough motivated applicants; the online job platform seniors@work alone has over 10,000 candidates in its database. However, companies' structures are often not yet designed to employ employees who are looking for something other than a traditional full-time position. But that is exactly what retirees are pushing for - part-time work in any form, ideally in hybrid working models with home office and flexible scheduling. But they are not alone in this. Generation Z and Millennials also prefer this new way of working - keyword "New Work". Therefore, change is probably only a matter of time.

Pensioners are also customers

But seniors are becoming more and more relevant to the economy, not just as employees, but also as a group of buyers. With increasing life expectancy, (still) good pensions and future additional wages in retirement, the wealthy clientele of people over 60 is growing.

Targeted offers for older people can be significantly expanded, especially since "seniors" are a very large segment, spanning around 30 years. Their interests and needs are correspondingly different. And products and services alone are not enough. Older customers could also be looked after by people of a similar age - whether in sales, advice, or telephone support.

In the end, things have come full circle: neither on the employee side nor on the buyer side will there be any way around the old ones in the future!

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