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Mid-Career Workers: Chopped Liver?

Recently, emphasis has been placed on addressing the requirements of older workers and ensuring the right graduates are recruited, but the demographic at most risk of being overlooked may be those in mid-career.

September 2, 2011
Related Topics: Background Checks, Retention, Talent Acquisition

The global employment market is in flux, with baby boomers staying in the workforce longer and college graduates struggling to get their first jobs because businesses are hesitant to ramp up hiring. Recently, a lot of emphasis has been placed on addressing the requirements of older workers and ensuring the right graduates are recruited. However, the demographic at most risk of being overlooked by employers may be those in mid-career.

The value mid-career workers bring — particularly in terms of the experience, maturity and productivity they offer — is a real asset to any organization and should not be lightly dismissed.

Lumesse — formerly StepStone Solutions, a provider of global talent management and talent acquisition products — commissioned a global survey spanning almost 4,000 employees across 14 countries to assess the different attitudes toward their work and employers. The results identified stark contrasts in career motivators such as salary, training, workplace happiness and workplace loyalty between genders, ages and regions.

Salary. The survey indicated that salary disparities still exist between genders and ages. Globally more men (10 percent) than women (8 percent) reported a pay increase of more than 20 percent since 2008. Meanwhile, mid-career employees were least likely to have had a pay raise. This data display the mood of the global workplace as many feeling unrewarded in terms of skills and application, but also in the more tangible form of pay, with 29 percent globally reporting their salary hasn’t risen since 2008.

Training. Mid-career employees were also dissatisfied with the amount of training offered. According to the study, 39 percent of employees between ages 18 and 25 as well as 35 percent of employees over 60 believe they are receiving the right training. However, those employees between ages 41 and 51 most strongly believed their company doesn’t bother to train its people and were least likely to agree they got good training when they needed it.

Regionally, Hong Kong employees received the least training, with only 17 percent of employees believing they would receive training to increase their skills. Conversely, in the rest of China 37 percent of employees believed they were trained proficiently. In the U.S., 34 percent of employees received thorough training. Within Europe, employees in the Netherlands and Belgium benefited the most, with 36 percent receiving comprehensive training, while Sweden was the most poorly trained (at 20 percent).

Employee happiness. Different generations experienced different levels of job satisfaction. The survey shows that, once again, mid-career workers are the least satisfied. In contrast, the oldest and youngest workers were the happiest, with employees starting work and nearing retirement consistently reporting higher levels of workplace satisfaction. The research suggests that workplace satisfaction is closely related to how well employees believe their performance and progress is being monitored.

Mid-career workers were most likely to consider their appraisal process of little use, while the 30 to 51 age demographic were least likely to know a formal appraisal processes existed within the organization.

Employee loyalty. Effective management and placement of employee skills are essential to keeping talent content and, consequently, loyal. Workplace attitudes and employer branding are synonymous with one another, as an inefficient workplace will weaken pride in a brand name.

When it comes to loyalty, 57 percent of French employees planned to stay with their employers “forever.” In the U.S., 31 percent planned to stay forever. At the bottom of the loyalty scale was Singapore at 17 percent followed closely by the U.K. and the Netherlands with 24 percent.

To achieve this loyalty, employers must manage and reward talent sufficiently to ensure longevity of its staff. A company’s most valuable resource is its employees, and considering the current economic climate, it is essential that talent is not only maximized, but rewarded to ensure loyalty and brand superiority in the HR space.

A key takeaway from the study is that employers should carefully consider their approach to managing and retaining mid-career workers who tend to be the forgotten bedrock of any company.

Matthew Parker is CEO of Lumesse. He can be reached at

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