Four reasons why sustainable employability is so important

Guido Heezen

Organisations can no longer ignore the need for a sustainable approach to employee development. As employees age, continuing the opportunities for development are as necessary as ever. Long gone are the days of early retirement. Ignoring employee development, is no longer an option.

Four reasons why sustainable employability is so important

1. Employees must work longer

Ten years ago, early retirement was an option for a lot of professions. It was easy for an employer to ignore the needs to develop their aging employees, because after they reached their 55th birthday, early retirement was on the horizon. Now, such a laconic attitude doesn’t cut it. Today, employees have to work until they’ve reached the age of 67 or 68. That means that someone aged 55, can stay with the company for thirteen more years.

2. Climbing the latter on cruise control

Organisations are getting flatter. The number of management team are decreasing and working in a more or less self-managing way is becoming more popular. This means in many cases that employees can no longer automatically flow into management functions. They continue as professionals in their jobs, however the requirements of their jobs might change. And while young people are still very ‘malleable’ and adaptive to technological innovation, older employees sometimes experience more difficulties, and they require more encouragement and support.

3. Don’t count on resignation

Young people with a good education like job-hopping. That makes sense. They are popular in the labor market and have a great freedom of choice. As a result, they’re often changing employers. However, employees over 50 will tend to stick with their employer. This is because they are less in demand in the labor market. It’s a harsh reality, but because of this they would exchange security for a large degree of uncertainty. “Older” people, often regardless of their level of education, are not easily adopted elsewhere. And certainly not for the salaries they deserve now and with the rights they have built up. Employers will have to find a way to keep these employees engaged and committed.

4. Employees must change

In the past, the professional skills of employees would last for a lifetime. Nowadays, knowledge and experience develop at a much faster rate. Because technology is constantly changing, the content of the work also changes continuously. Young graduates often have more relevant (timely) knowledge than older people with decades of experience. For anyone at 55 years, it’s not possible for the rest of his career (at least 13 years) to continue to do the same job. He or she can only reach sustainable employability by changing themselves.

Listen to your employees

Organisations benefit from keeping their employees healthy, engaged and committed at all stages of their employment. That can be an intimidating task. But it’s possible by making it clear what you expect from them, listening to them and supporting them in their personal development. Employees experience more work pleasure and perform better. We believe that organisations who listen to the ideas of their employees experience sustainable success.

Employees must also increase their awareness. What works well now is probably irrelevant in ten years. So for instance, during an appraisal interview, consider the efforts of an employee to develop themselves, apart from the overall job function. There are several ways to make your employees sustainable. In an upcoming blog, I’ll deep dive this topic.