Aging Workforce

I just started a new job. We have a lot of employees that have been with our company over 25 years. These employees are not as productive as our new hires and have been this slow for years. How do we as a company begin addressing an issue that should have been addressed 10 years ago. If the employee has been working the same throughout these years and the productivity issue had never been addressed by management, where can management take it from here?


  • 10 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Since you are new, where are you getting the information from that the long-time workers have been "slow for years" and nonproductive?  Someone who wants one of their jobs?  Dr did you have access to their performance reviews and they have been mediocre for years?

    If you jettison all the "aging" workers, you could be up for age discrimination charges.  Seems like you are painting with a broad brush here.

  • Hey, you might have some pay compression problems if the older workers are all at the top of their pay grades.  That might be a way to get upper management to look at this situation. 
  • It may be that your older employees are slower, but you can’t argue that they have over 25 years work experience, and that is something that your newer workers don’t have.  The younger workers maybe faster, but what is there error rate, job competency and knowledge?  Don't dismiss older workers as people who are nothing but a slow drag on your company, they have established long lasting relationships with your clients and vendors and know the marketplace better then your new employees.  It could be that their needs are not being met by the company on a motivational level.  You should be looking for ways to motivate this section of workers and have them mentor your younger employees.  For I assure you they need it. 

  • How countable is the work of these employees?

    How reliable are the reports (verbal or written) of their productivity?


    If the people do work that is not easily measured or, regardless of how easy it is measured, if it is not measured, then productivity claims can be absolutely meaningless.  If the work is measurable but the measures, themselves, are largely seat-of-pants, short term snap-shot, or subjectively determined, then productivity claims can be absolutely meaningless.


    In other words, you may not have anything that's actionable without substantial risk to the Company.  You should be concerned about the justice issue here, too.  If you don't have slam dunk cases of low productivity with measurable work that has been well measured over time, even if no legal action comes your way, you could end up with some serious problems in the climate of the work place.  You could also indirectly create a culture of "age intolerance" that leads to unrelated claims down the road.  It wouldn't hurt to do some reading on how employers get hit with the liability stick when they assume that using certain phrases other than "old" will make their reasoning seem less illegal.  There are a lot of synonyms for "we fired a bunch of old people" that have been recognized at trial.

  • I agree with the other posters that you have to be careful with this issue.  There is another posting talking about utilizing the skills of both new employees and more experienced employees to make both groups more productive.  Experience talks. Why not look at the way the more expereienced group is doing things and also the way the new employees are doing things?  I bet you will find some good qualities out of both groups.  Why not have them, as a group, come up with the best way for the job to get done?  Have them mentor each other on the things they are the strongest.  I have seen where the more experienced group is able to mentor the newer employees on things like work ethic, company culture, and business etiquette.  On the flip side the newer employees have brought some new ideas to the table to make the job easier for everyone (i.e. technology) and they were able to teach these things to the more experienced group.  It will take some time for both sides to get used to the other side, but if done right, you will have better employees.
  • How do you spell ADEA?[:P] You must tread very lightly here and use valid performance evaluations to base a termination on. 
  • The AARP just came out with a new (and free) assessment tool for older workers at

     Hope this is helpful

  • [quote user="ninanewbie"]

    The AARP just came out with a new (and free) assessment tool for older workers at

     Hope this is helpful



    Useful tool.  Thanks!

  • I remember when a history teacher pointed out that at any given point in time, people throughout time have always been correct when they said "we live in modern times", whether said over a lead-pot stewed fermented beverage in 500 BCE or while examining MRI images yesterday.

    When has it not been true to say "the workforce is aging"?

  • TXHRGuy - you are right.  The only difference now is there seems to be a larger percentage of the population that is hitting retirement age then there are coming into the workforce right now.  But my question is this - what is retirement age now?   I think more people are working later in life then they did say 20 years ago. I have one employee that is over 60, who is very healthy and has no plans to retire anytime soon.  I see more and more resumes for those that have been in the workforce for 20, 25, 30 or more years. 
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