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Like its population, Colorado’s workforce is getting older as people work past traditional retirement age.

A recent conference held in Denver explored the business case of how older, experienced workers affect a company’s bottom line (catch up with the subject in last week’s newsletter here) and how to attract and retain them. But the Age-Inclusive Management Strategies conference also addressed how the people of any age view work today. 

A key word: Flexibility. That helps young parents who may need to be at home on some school days, workers who may be taking care of aging parents, and the adults who need to or want to work beyond the traditional retirement age.

Rick Guzzo, co-founder of Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute, shares findings from his research on older workers at the Age-Inclusive Management Strategies conference in Denver on Sept. 28, 2022. The photos are courtesy of the University of Iowa.

“Flexible practices that keep ‘retirement’ age, high-tenure people in your organization can really be valuable for the business,” said Rick Guzzo, co-founder of Mercer’s Workforce Sciences Institute, whose research found that age has a neutral impact on a company’s financial performance. But adding tenure and age together and companies with more of these older workers produced a significant positive effect for the firm. 

Guzzo shared that in a survey of 8,000 workers around the globe, 84% expect to work past normal retirement age. Most said it was to stay mentally sharp, but a similar percent said it was to stay busy or because they needed the money. That left just 16% who planned to retire at age 65, or whatever age they considered as retirement.

And Colorado labor force data shows that people 65 and older are remaining more active in the workforce than this age group did in the past. In 22 years, the rate of workers 65 and older in the workforce has nearly doubled, to 23.2% this year, compared to 12.1% in 2000.

Most of the other age groups have remained steady, except for younger workers with teenagers showing the great declines in getting a job or looking for one.

“A lot of people want to work, but under different circumstances. Maybe fewer hours, a little more flexibility, etc. So accommodate them, enable it. Make it happen,” Guzzo said. “There are phased retirement programs that enable people to transition by stepping down the work, which meets the employee’s needs but also provides for the transfer of knowledge and preparing those who are behind them to step up and do the work.”

But it was really the stories that panelists shared that illustrated how to manage the multigenerational workforce:

Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute, interviews author Kerry Hannon and writer Richard Eisenberg at the Age-Inclusive Management Strategies conference in Denver on Sept. 28, 2022. The photos are courtesy of the University of Iowa.
  • Use clear language in job postings that any generation can understand, said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute, which organized the event. “There’s an employer in my neighborhood, a fast-growing tech company, and I went and looked at their job postings. … It had acronyms and things that I knew conceptually that I would know what the job was, but the use of acronyms was so dense, I didn’t know what they were talking about.”
  • Make the job posting inclusive, suggested Richard Eisenberg, a former editor at Next Avenue and Money magazine who considers himself “unretired.” He shared a story of a landscaping company that had difficulty attracting applicants. But not all the positions required heavy labor. “If they only included in their job posting that the jobs didn’t require heavy lifting and that kind of work, you might get some people who didn’t apply because they were afraid they couldn’t do the job.”
  • Adapt when needed, said Kerry Hannon, who has written about career transitions and is a senior columnist at Yahoo Finance. Her manager is “decades younger” but the relationship works because each respects the other. But when she started her new job, she said, “My manager wasn’t returning my emails or my phone calls and I was getting really upset. I thought I had done something wrong. Turns out, she communicates on Slack. I had never even been on Slack before so I quickly got myself up to speed, never said a word about it and that is how I communicate with her.”

The resource list

“An older woman working on her laptop” is the title of this photo that is part of the Changing the Narrative and Next 50 Initiative to combat visual ageism and portray older adults in intergenerational work. (Provided by Next50initiative.org)
  • Work At Home Vintage Experts — Connects employers to workers over 50 who aren’t ready to retire but are easing into retirement. It’s not a temp agency but a tech platform providing contract remote staffing with experience in insurance, accounting, HR and other occupations. >> wahve.com
  • SecondActWomen — Denver-based membership organization to help women in their 40s, 50s and up reboot their career or jump back into the workplace. >> secondactwomen.com
  • National Experienced Workforce Solutions — Virginia-based nonprofit with an office in Lakewood that hires workers age 55 and older for jobs at government agencies. >> newsolutions.org
  • Partnership for Age-Friendly Communities in Larimer County — Recently received a grant from the Larimer County Workforce Center to create micro internships for the 50+ population (learn more here), and offers career counseling to older adults. >> pafclarimer.org
  • Back To Work 50+ — AARP’s job training and coaching program offers workshops with community partners. >> More info
  • Avoid age stereotypes — Colorado organization Changing The Narrative offers a guide on how to avoid terms, images and language that make job listings and work places unwelcoming to older adults. >> See guide

Take the poll

Share what your company is doing — or should be doing — to attract older (or younger) workers and retain them for years and years. Take the poll at https://cosun.co/age-friendly

If you missed the conference last week, many of the sessions were recorded and are now online. Some links to make it easier to access: 


Other working bits

→ Trimble picks Westminster as new HQ: GPS technology company Trimble Inc., which first opened an office in Colorado in 2000, anointed Westminster as its new headquarters this week, leaving its original Silicon Valley space as just a “strategic hub.” The company’s tech provides precision surveying for large projects, like the RTD line from Denver to the airport. It employs about 1,000 people in the city and has more than 100 job openings in the area. >> Jobs

→ Bay Area diabetes-reversal firm picks Denver for HQ: There’s no new facility to speak of just yet but last week, officials from Virta Health said they picked Denver as its new headquarters. Sure, it’s exciting that Virta hopes to add 902 new full-time jobs over the next eight years (and get a $7 million tax credit from the state if it creates the jobs), but it’ll be interesting to see how the company’s technology “helps people reverse type 2 diabetes without medications or surgery,” according to the news release of the HQ move. Apparently, it’s part diet and app monitoring while getting weaned off medications. >> Jobs

→ Incoming from Ireland: The Irish company Teamwork, which builds online tools to help companies manage projects, has picked Denver as its new North American hub, the company announced this week. It is currently renting space at WeWork and led by Beau Brooks, its Denver-based vice president of worldwide sales. Denver was picked, Brooks said, because that’s where the talent is plus, “we know that over half of our customers are in North America. We want to be where our customers are as we continue to grow.” Teamwork plans to hire 20 people by the end of the year. >> Jobs

Located in Canon City, the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, shown here in a Dec. 9, 2020, photo, is the state’s oldest prison. Built in 1871, it preceded the state’s admission to the Union by five years. (Mike Sweeney, Special to The Colorado Sun)

→ Corrections department recruits on TikTok: This week, there were 1,756 job openings at state prisons and other facilities of the Colorado Department of Corrections. That’s a lot considering fully staffed means 8,000 workers. Sun reporter Olivia Prentzel writes about how the agency is using the trendy video clip app TikTok to recruit workers, in addition to bonuses of up to $7,000. >> Read

→ Seasonal hiring has begun: JCPenney’s will officially begin its seasonal hiring on Oct. 12. The retailer hopes to fill 22,000 openings, with 400 of them at one of the retailer’s 12 Colorado stores. If you’re interested, stop by a store or check out the openings online. >> Jobs


I’m saving you time this weekend with what may be the shortest version of this newsletter ever. As always, share your two cents on how the economy is keeping you down or helping you up at cosun.co/heyww. See you next week! ~ tamara 

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Tamara Chuang

Tamara writes about businesses, technology and the local economy for The Colorado Sun. She also writes the "What's Working" column, available as a free newsletter at coloradosun.com/getww....