Disruption could be good for workers in their 40s, 50s and 60s

There is no ‘business as usual’ as far as digital disruption is concerned, but one unique way organisations can prepare for such uncertainty is to employ more older workers.

While younger digital natives are often thought of as an organisation’s best response to the rapid pace of change, a workforce with older experienced employees is often more prepared to face change.

Last year, Ford CEO Mark Fields signalled quite how profoundly technology has overthrown all our assumptions about business. He admitted that companies seemingly far removed from the car industry – the likes of Apple and Google – were now considered its main rivals, as opposed to stalwarts such as General Motors or Chrysler. New technologies are redefining business models and sectors in a dramatic way (what we know as ‘digital disruption’).

For many organisations, the challenge is how to react to disruption and maintain competitiveness, and this starts with their workforce.

Yet when people talk of the skills an organisation needs in response to digital disruption there’s usually an assumption that it is younger digital natives who are best suited to embrace technological change and adapt to new business models.

While digital natives can grasp and make sense of the changes around them, older professionals have the experience that allows decisions to be made and then deliver on agreed outcomes. When an organisation creates a diverse workforce – of younger digital natives as well as experienced professionals in their 40s, 50s and 60s from various industries – they have a team that will bring knowledge from various backgrounds to the challenges faced.

Older professionals can also up-skill to become digitally savvy and capable of responding to, or creating, disruption.

Apart from age diversity, to respond to digital disruption organisations also need staff who can:

  • Innovate
  • Embrace agile working methods
  • Look for new opportunities
  • Adapt to changing circumstances
  • Keep up with customer needs
  • Develop analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Take calculated risks
  • Translate data into usable and valuable insights

They also need to be able to do all this while delivering the agreed outcomes.

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