N.H.'s Changing Workforce: Looking for answers on hiring older workers?

With baby boomers approaching traditional retirement age and the changing demographics of New Hampshire’s workforce, the question of how best to recruit and retain skilled workers is now shared by business owners and employers throughout the state.

Recent research conducted by AARP found that 69 percent of workers between the ages of 45 and 74 intend to work in some capacity beyond the traditional age of retirement. This, combined with the declining number of young people entering New Hampshire’s workforce, means employers in the state will be best served by not only looking to this older demographic as a viable source of manpower, but by looking at what their company can do to encourage retirement-age individuals to remain in their employment — and how they can increase their appeal to other workers over 50.

“This is really about the viability of their business – the productivity, the competition to retain and hire good talent – not only in New Hampshire, but this whole region,” said Kelly Clark, state director of AARP NH. “It’s all about the limited workforce and what employers can do to make sure they have the workers they need.”

In an effort to aid employers in this endeavor, AARP has launched the AARP Employer Resource Center, which, Clark said, “is about making timely, quality resource information available to today’s employers. We believe this resource will help businesses and employers to see that it is possible to hire older workers. There are things that can be done inexpensively that can help employers to maintain a sustainable workforce.”

Found at aarp.org/employerresourcecenter, the Web site is a source of news, publications and information helpful to employers hoping to retain their existing employees and trying to recruit additional workers. The site also contains useful information for 50+ workers themselves.

Included on the site is a comprehensive resource guide that includes a number of Web addresses and information for employers looking to hire mature workers or help them with life decisions unique to that demographic.

The site also contains a list of “best practices” demonstrated by companies currently employing 50+ workers and a link to “SmartBrief,” AARP’s free, twice-monthly e-mail newsletter designed specifically for employers.

Issues including age equity in the workplace, managing a multigenerational workforce, flexible retirement arrangements, and caregiving are all topics of publications available to employers through the Employer Resource Center.

“The Business Case for Workers Age 50+: Planning for Tomorrow’s Talent Needs in Today’s Competitive Environment” offers a research-based analysis of the important role 50+ workers can play in the workforce while taking a look at associated myths and the true cost/benefit of employing the older worker.

Access to AARP’s newly introduced Workers’ Assessment Tool also can be gained through the site, giving employers the opportunity to complete an 80-question survey and in so doing gain insight to their future workforce needs. (See “Web-based tool helps firms assess future labor needs,” June 6-19 NHBR.)

“We have given HR professionals a tool,” said Clark. “Something they can take to their CEO and say, ‘Here’s a trend. This is what it’s going to cost you if we don’t address this.’”

The Employer Resource Center is part of AARP’s “50+ Workers Campaign” and promotes the organization’s commitment to “awareness, education and assessment,” said Jamie Bulen, AARP NH’s associate state director of communications.

“We’ve taken a look at how can we support businesses across the continuum,” Bulen said. “And I think this resource center really allows for that. It goes a long way toward informing and educating our employers.”

N.H.’s Changing Workforce series is a partnership between NHBR and AARP New Hampshire