SHRM and SHRM Foundation Launch Aging Workforce Project


March 4, 2014

Initiative will deliver research and resources to educate HR professionals and business leaders and improve workplace programs for older workers

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the SHRM Foundation today announced the launch of a national initiative highlighting the value of older workers and identifying through original research best practices for employing an aging workforce.

At a time when many HR professionals already report difficulty hiring skilled workers, the retirement of the Baby Boom generation and the loss of its knowledge and skills will have an unprecedented effect on employers. More than two-thirds of HR professionals said in a SHRM survey that the exit of Baby Boomers will have a major impact on the workplace in the next five years.

“Older workers represent a never-before-seen opportunity for employers,” said Mark Schmit, executive director of the SHRM Foundation. “In this knowledge economy, the retention of older workers gives employers a competitive edge by allowing them to continue to tap a generation of knowledge and skill.”

The mission of the three-year project is to understand and solve the issues of an aging workforce through research and analysis of HR policies and practices and to educate business leaders and HR professionals about older workers and implications for workplaces. The initiative is funded by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Workers ages 55 and older have distinctive interests, including flexible work arrangements and retirement transitions. “New thinking by HR professionals and employers will be required to recruit and retain them,” Schmit said. “Otherwise, organizations’ greatest asset will walk out the door in the next 10 years.”

Older workers also bring distinctive needs to the workplace such as caregiving responsibilities and health concerns, and they can complicate career advancement for younger workers and contribute to intergenerational conflict. As a result, the initiative will identify effective practices for employing and engaging older workers.

Initiative efforts will include first-of-its-kind research and education. Among them:


  • An overview of existing research that identifies the employment issues associated with an aging workforce. 
  • A research report on HR's perspective of the issues and current practices for recruiting and retaining older workers.
  • A study to identify the gaps between research recommendations and practices currently being used by HR professionals.


  • An update to SHRM’s “Aging and Employment: Workforce planning and talent management” learning module, which is used in HR curriculum by colleges and universities.
  • Two case studies to supplement the teaching.


  • A DVD and discussion guide featuring a company with highly effective HR practices.
  • A guidebook of resources, templates and policies.
  • An “Aging Workforce Solutions” resource page on


  • An executive roundtable discussion by business leaders.
  • A June 25 presentation at SHRM’s Annual Conference in Orlando.

In the second half of the project, SHRM state councils and local chapters will provide research and resources in communities with the greatest aging workforce issues.

The project will have far-reaching effects, giving employers knowledge and tools to manage future generations of workers. “With the help of evidence-based research from SHRM and the SHRM Foundation, HR professionals and business leaders will get this right,” said Alex Alonso, SHRM’s vice president of research. “Beyond the Baby Boom generation, the even larger Millennial generation will benefit because employers will be prepared to address their interests and needs 30 years before they surface.”

Media: For more information, contact Kate Kennedy of SHRM Media Relations at 703-535-6260 and or Vanessa Gray at 703-535-6072 and

About the Society for Human Resource Management
Founded in 1948, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest HR membership organization devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 275,000 members in over 160 countries, the Society is the leading provider of resources to serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management. SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China, India and United Arab Emirates. Visit SHRM Online at and follow us on Twitter @SHRMPress.

About the SHRM Foundation
The SHRM Foundation was founded in 1966 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The SHRM Foundation advances global HR knowledge and practice by providing thought leadership and educational support, and by sponsoring, funding and driving the adoption of cutting-edge, actionable and evidence-based research. Visit and follow us on Twitter @SHRMFoundation.


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