We sat down recently with David McGoldrick, HR Director at Comfort Keepers Ireland to discuss an often overlooked but emerging challenge for HR in the digital era – the aging workforce. It’s a decidedly ’silent’ topic that appears to have been unceremoniously wedged between more trendy discussions about the latest tech boom and digital disruption; nonetheless, it’s a topic that has a potentially enormous impact on HR, the business, and workers young and old.
Listen to the highlights of the interview with David at the bottom of this post.
There are many studies that have outlined the next projected global economic challenges. This is happening when global growth has never looked better (current fluctuations notwithstanding), and most entities are planning and preparing for further growth. However, there is a looming crisis which will impact each and everyone who is associated with any and all parts of the organization. In 1950, 8% of the world’s population was aged 60 years and older by 2013 this had reached 12% (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2013). This demographic transformation will gather momentum in the coming years, with predictions that by 2050, 20% of the world’s population will be aged 60 years and over. As we race towards this figure, this will impact across many human, employee, managerial, productivity and societal areas.
Shortly, we will be managing older employees. We will be managing employees who will be required and need to take time off to look after their elderly family. The level of healthcare professionals across all associated areas are falling, and many healthcare systems are already creaking under at the weight of years of underinvestment match by an ever-growing growing older population. It is evident that human capital is in short supply, so it is obvious that a solution needs to be found to address these trends. This is where HR will need to have an impact to counterbalance new evolutions in the employee landscape, and this where new digital initiatives will be forthcoming in assisting and managing ’new work’.
The ramifications of an aging workforce and society for employee experience practices and HR programs are quite significant and must be considered in any formulation of the ’digital workplace’.
How will HR cope with older employees and their needs?
How will HR cope with employees and their increasingly elderly families?
How will HR cope with integration and re-integration of elderly employees in tech-driven workplaces?
There are many questions, speculative or not that must be considered. In an idealized utopia, next-gen society may be productive and efficient enough to lower retirement ages – but this is still quite a few years away by any estimation.
As such, new digital initiatives are emerging to help HR and the business cope; these will include everything from remote monitoring, real-time communication, robotics, virtual care services, to any manner of digital communication advancements. Positioning HR’s role as a facilitator of both business and human success will, therefore, be co-dependent on its strategic grasp of long-term, technological, ethical and social changes. These changes are going to continue to emerge and become more prominent as current macro socio-economic trends persist, so the choice is somewhat clear – HR must keep on top of preparing for demographic shockwaves, or risk losing touch with the broad societal environment.
Listen to our conversation with David:
David McGoldrick is the HR Director at Comfort Keepers Ireland, a Sodexo company. He has over 20 years of executive management experience in HR, spanning sectors including Retail, Manufacturing, Transport, Aviation, and Health Care. He is highly accomplished in all areas of HR development and is known for his effective approaches to transformational leadership and engagement. For more from David, follow and connect with him on LinkedIn.
David will be speaking at The Digital HR Summit Amsterdam on March 27-28, so catch him there to learn more!