Older employees as productive as youngsters

According to Dr. Sven Völpel, professor for business management at the Jacobs Center of the Bremen International University, there is no scientific prove of the common prejudice that older people were less productive than young people. In his opinion companies should more bank on their older staff in order to avoid the loss of precious know-how once the first German baby boomers will retire in 2015.

In the years to come there will be a lack of qualified workers. The competition for talented people has already started. “Whoever wants to keep their qualified and experienced employees some years from now has to set the course for this right now”, recommends Mr. Völpel to companies. “Older people are not sent into retirement because they were less productive, but because they are too expensive”. Someone who is 50 years of age costs fifty percent more than a younger colleague doing the same work. Until the year 2006 another factor was state subsidies granted to companies which parted with their older employees. Thus, it was economic reasons and the political framework which lead to people at the age of 50 and above being sacked.

Older workers are willing to learn and further develop. “But as a rule people over 45 nowadays will not receive any further training, because this would be too expensive”, says Völpel. However, the demographic change creates a different situation: people receiving training in their forties will have enough time to pay back this investment due to their working to an older age. “Another cost-efficient solution to companies would be job rotation. Career steps which go sideways instead of upwards open up new perspectives and tasks for older people” recommends Völpel to companies. GERMAN