More than a dozen business leaders from around the Omaha metro area came to the UNO campus on Wednesday, Sept. 9, to learn and discuss how their businesses could adapt to the growing population of aging workers and consumers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in just 5 years more than a quarter of the workforce will be made up of those over the age of 55. Despite this statistic, the Society for Human Resource Management has found that a majority of organizations are not prepared to handle an aging workforce.
The event was organized by UNO’s Department of Gerontology, Home Instead Senior Care and the Global Coalition on Aging.
Keynote speakers included Coalition on Aging Executive Director Michael Hodin, who discussed the expanding opportunities that exist for businesses given the increases in the aging population, which is predicted to make up 70 percent of the nation's disposable income within just two years.
Also speaking was the chair of UNO's Department of Geronology, Julie Masters, who spoke about the need for intergenerational dialogue in the workforce and how those who study aging can be a benefit to corporations.
"Aging is a lifelong process," Masters explained. "Thinking about agiing when people are young is taking a proactive stance in that person's overall wellbeing, not just in their personal lives, but also in their work life."
Paul Hogan, co-founder for Home Instead Senior Care, concluded the session by discussing how company policies can better reflect social responsibility, which, in turn, allows companies to maximize the impact of their workers.
Hogan laid out several guiding principals that he reccomended for modern businesses, including long-term financial planning for employees, supporting employees who also serve as caregivers, and providing health and wellness incentives for employees.
In attendance were leaders from Omaha-based, but internationally recognized, companies such as Omaha Steaks, ConAgra, Oriental Trading Company, and more.
After listening to each of the event's speakers, Cecil Hicks, Jr., Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Human Resources, indicated at least five key takeaways for businesses today:
- Discussions on aging need to be strategic
- Businesses who adapt will be game changers
- Retirement should be seen as a process, not an event
- Leaders need to look at changing institutional frameworks
- All organizations should strive for an age-friendly environment
"This discussion need to be one that is happening at the senior level," Hicks said. "Meaningful work needs to be done on overcoming age bias. We are collectively missing a great opportunity to leverage our talented aging population."
Following the event, Masters explained that this will not be the only business-focused discussion on aging UNO will be hosting. Instead, plans are already taking shape for a follow up event to delve deeper into the ways businesses can support an aging population.
For more information on UNO's Department of Gerontology, visit www.unomaha.edu/college-of-public-affairs-and-community-service/gerontology.
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