AARP Research

A Business Case for Workers Age 50+: A Look at the Value of Experience 2015

This new study, evaluates the business case for the recruitment, retention, and engagement of these workers.  The findings reveal that the business case for workers age 50+ has strengthened since the original report was published in 2005 and confirms that 50+ workers are a critical component of a high-performance business.

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Key findings include:

  • The number of Americans age 50+ who are working or looking for work has grown significantly over the past decade, and is expected to continue to increase. In fact, 35% of U.S. labor force participants will be age 50+ in 2022. This compares to just 25% in 2002.

  • The 50+ segment of the workforce continues to be the most engaged age cohort across all generations. Sixty-five percent of employees age 55+ are considered engaged based on survey data, while younger employee engagement averages 58% to 60%. The level of employee engagement has implications for both retention and business results. It takes only a 5% increase in engagement to achieve 3% incremental revenue growth.

  • Other advantages of workers ages 50+ include their experience, professionalism, work ethic, lower turnover, and knowledge.

  • Contrary to common perception, workers age 50+ do not cost significantly more than younger workers. Shifting trends in reward and benefit programs have created a more age-neutral distribution of labor costs, meaning that adding more age 50+ talent to a workforce results in only minimal increases in total labor costs. Furthermore, the incremental costs of 50+ workers may be far outweighed by the value that they add.

  • Although current and future financial needs are a top reason that employees stay in the workforce past age 50, psychological and social fulfillment also play a role.

  • Leading employers use a variety of strategies to recruit and retain 50+ workers including flexible workplaces, options for transitioning to retirement, and fostering generational diversity and inclusion.

This study was conducted for AARP by Aon Hewitt, a global services firm. Information was drawn from a variety of sources, including Aon Hewitt databases of thousands of employers and millions of workers. For additional information, contact Laura Bos at or S. Kathi Brown at Media inquiries should be directed to AARP’s Media Relations Office at

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Becky's Blog

Rebecca Gillian

AARP Research's Senior Vice President Becky Gillan blogs about recent AARP research and her experiences as a member of the 50+. Read

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