Employer News

Mar 13 2023

Do you have some employees in the latter years of their working life who have been in the one role for quite some time?


Many are content in this position, but for some, their motivation has lessened. This could be because they have become generally bored with their day-to-day role, or thinking, ‘I’ll just stay here until I retire’. Or for some staff, it could be burnout. One thing to consider is the relationship between burnout and engagement. As burnout rises, engagement starts to dip. Along with this goes motivation.


From an employment perspective, this can be tricky, especially if other staff could diversify into these roles and possibly contribute more. Developing staff and understanding what motivates them should be lifelong, and developing professionally should be an active part of the employment life cycle, regardless of age. In addition, creating a climate where managers are committed to this approach will assist older staff and other staff in remaining engaged and productive.


But motivation is never one-size-fits-all, so customising the approach needs to be based on each individual employee’s attitudes and priorities while simultaneously balancing organisational needs. And what motivates staff in their later working life can differ from what drives younger employees. If money isn’t a big issue, some may not care as much about a large salary or promotions because of being at a different point in their working life. Work-life balance, leaving a legacy and mentoring others are motivators for some in this stage of their working life. Engaging older workers is about recognising and acting on individual needs. By engaging staff in this cohort, you’ll not only improve retention but you’ll also retain vital corporate memory and have staff who will serve as crucial resources to train and develop the other important age cohorts.


Some strategies that could assist older staff to stay engaged and productive include:

  • Have a plan, know the demographics of your workforce.
  • Recognise and value older staff, their contribution, knowledge, and experience.
  • Provide flexible work alternatives – explore what their needs are – maybe they will be more motivated if they can work differently.
  • Consider whether they might like to do a less stressful role, or a different role if the opportunity avails itself.
  • Discuss with them whether they would like to be mentors as part of their role – using their wealth of knowledge and experience to help younger, eager workers looking for the keys to career success. This can be a win-win where older workers learn new technology and skills themselves.
  • Think about using the bank of skills and talents they have amassed – are there any special projects or initiatives they can lend a hand to?
  • Identify those skills that they particularly enjoy using and are essential to the organisation. Identify if there are opportunities for them to use these more within their role or team
  • Consider secondment opportunities where they can add value to the organisation while at the same time use their particular skills and experience that can be a win-win
  • Identify what motivates and fulfils them, and what their needs are, especially if these coincidence with the direction of the organisation
  • Recognise their achievements and encourage them to consider what they have already given to the company
  • Explore their sense of purpose and the intrinsic value of the work itself
  • Consult with them on topics where their experience matters and ask them as individuals how they feel they could best contribute to the organisation.
  • Invest in a transition to retirement programme or one-to-one sessions to assist them plan for when they leave


Providing meaningful and interesting work stretches older employees and makes full use of their skills and experience. This is valuable for both parties. Provide this cohort with new learning opportunities – they are never too old to learn and use this to the benefit of the organisation.


Older staff are more likely to feel engaged and have higher levels of motivation if they feel their work is varied and worthwhile. Managers play a crucial role in this process.