From the Silver Economy to Senior Talent
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From the Silver Economy to Senior Talent

Photo by:   Francisco Ruiz
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By Francisco Ruiz - Tecnatom
Knowledge Management Manager


This is the short story of how we have gone, or are going, from only perceiving the economy generated by the 50-plus consumer segment (Silver Economy) to understanding that this group continues to have great productive capacity.

For some years now, many studies have shown that the 55-plus age group in the Occidental world is one of the most attractive targets to address in the hard task of searching for clients. These are some of the characteristics attributed to them:

  • High savings capacity
  • High spending capacity
  • Time available to spend
  • Long life expectancy ahead
  • Life goals achieved

And so, the Silver Economy was born. Entertainment, gastronomy, cars and automotive, holiday homes, financial services and art and culture — these are just a few of the sectors that have seen in this segment the niche they were looking for and are focusing their efforts on developing products and services that are increasingly tailored to the needs and expectations of this demographic.

Also, not so many years ago, companies spent a great deal of effort and not small amounts of money on attracting the best "millennial" talent for their most innovative and flagship projects. "We offer a very young team," was the slogan. At the same time, there were countless early retirement processes that put people out of the company whose only "flaw" was that they were over 55 years old.

In other words, it is a group that, while it is given exquisite treatment in its role as a potential consumer, it is pushed back and forgotten in its role as a potential producer.

My personal conviction is that both phenomena have taken place without considering the feelings of this group.

The over-55s are (we are) a group that does not resign itself to being only the best group of consumers. It is a collective that does not resign itself to ceasing to be producers or to being second-class producers.

At a time when knowledge is recognized as the greatest resource of any company or public administration, most organizations I talk to as a Knowledge Management consultant recognize that 70 percent of the knowledge they need for their current and imagined future operations exists within the organization. In industrial companies, this percentage can be as high as 90 percent. And that knowledge resides, by the simple effect of time, with the most senior people in the company.

Why should we then do away with these people in a hasty and chaotic manner? Why give up this key knowledge base that is an asset for your business?

We must be ready to bust some myths. Not all "millennials" (X, Y, Z generations) are as talented as they are supposed to be, and not all seniors are unmotivated workers, without digital skills and without the capability to adapt and learn.

Senior talent is of undeniable value. They know us and we know them, they are committed, they still want to grow professionally and their ability to learn new skills, according to what neuroscience tells us, has not decreased. And we don't have to go looking for them outside!

I am currently involved in the implementation of processes to identify and enhance the value of senior talent in two large industrial corporations in the Latin America area. This does not make me the world's leading expert on this subject but there are some lessons I am learning that I would like to share:

  • You cannot set up a senior program without them, the company's seniors. To do so would be to start from assumptions that are surely wrong, because to recognize them you have to get to know them first hand and be very sure of what motivates them, what inspires them and what they are needing.
  • Senior talent brings a lot of knowledge, but even more in skills that really differentiate one company from another: calmness in crisis situations, accurate analysis in decision-making and hypersensitivity to changes in the business environment. All of this, which is key to success in the markets, resides mainly with seniors.
  • Senior talent is, by definition (by age), Master. The way to make the most of it is through generational diversity. Integrating senior talent with junior talent is the key to success.

Today, senior talent management must become one of the top priorities for a company’s human resources policies. Seniors may not be the most productive (or maybe they are?), but they are the best producers. And this is a differential value for a company. Recognition of this reality is going to force both sides of the binomial to reconsider some of their positions:

  • Senior people will have to be able to take on the challenge of constant professional recycling throughout their working life, updating their skills and understanding that learning is not an option but a day-to-day activity in their professional development. It is an attitude.
  • Companies, as well as the public sector, must undertake actions that allow them to leave the false cliché of the senior professional as someone obsolete and rigid, moving forward to models of generational integration that facilitate the promotion of this sector of the workforce that is still in the best condition to continue contributing value to corporations and to society in general.
Photo by:   Francisco Ruiz

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