The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the workplace. Upon impact, COVID-19 sent tons of workers to the home office, resulting in a sharp decrease in the traditional forms of work baby boomers were used to.
The pandemic also led to a massive wave of layoffs and unemployment. With social distancing measures in place, all but the most essential workers were hit with job insecurity.
Fortunately, things have mellowed out quite a bit since then. The markets are coming back, and new safety measures have helped us return to normal life in many areas.
But the job market has changed significantly. Employers are struggling to find workers to fill their open positions. The labor shortage is causing significant concern for many businesses across the country.
Additionally, there’s been a sweeping wave of employees leaving their jobs voluntarily. Dubbed “The Great Resignation”, companies are watching their top performers walk away from stable careers in the hopes of finding better opportunities elsewhere.
While this problem will likely resolve itself as the market shifts, it’s still causing significant slowdowns for numerous industries.
Luckily, an unlikely solution appears on the horizon. Older workers may just be the answer to the mass labor shortage.
One of the driving factors in the current labor shortage is the rise of virtual work and e-commerce.
With the rise of work-from-home, many people realized they could perform their work without needing to go to an office or store. They were forced to stay home during the beginning of the pandemic and grew accustomed to the convenience.
When employers tried to pull people back into the office, many simply refused. Some sought out more flexible employment, choosing to go to work for companies that let them work remotely.
Others decided to launch their own businesses. In fact, small business formation exploded, rising dramatically compared to the trends in prior years.
These things have their upsides. The increased demand for flexible working conditions and the explosion of new businesses means the market is becoming kinder to employees and seeing innovative new products and services emerge.
That said, there’s still a big issue. Companies lack the workers they need to continue operating.
The solution to this massive labor shortage might be older workers.
Part of the great resignation can be traced to an increase in early retirement. Many people over the age of 50 have reported they’ve decided to retire rather than return to the workforce after the pandemic-related layoffs.
While that retirement is certainly justified and well-earned, there is also a host of opportunities for older workers willing to reenter the workforce. Their experience and insights can help guide companies as they enter the new marketplace, adding much-needed diversity of perspective.
Additionally, older workers can take advantage of the labor shortage to demand better pay and more flexible working conditions. Leveraging their experience, they can ask for better salaries and remote work options, giving them the freedom to enjoy more leisure time and building a safety net for when they return to retirement.
The labor shortage is a serious problem for everyone. Companies are struggling to fill positions, leading to a worldwide slowdown.
The silver lining is that workers are in a great position to demand better work arrangements. Older workers in particular can leverage their much-needed expertise to find well-paying jobs that can set them up for a comfortable retirement while allowing them flexibility and low-stress working conditions.
About the Author
Bradon is a freelance writer specializing in education and the future of work. He strives to help people understand and navigate through the ever-changing world of learning, technology, and marketing.