According to the World Health Organisation (2014), between the years 2000 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years will double from about 11% to 22%. In absolute numbers, this means that the number of people aged 60 years and over is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. These figures have significant implications for individuals and organisations and the way they manage, motivate and engage older workers.

This chapter explores this changing demographic and considers its implications in the workplace for organisations and its leaders. The authors take an organisational perspective, examine why organisations would want to consider employing older workers, and argue that even taking into account likely increases in the use of IT, automation and robotics this ageing demographic is likely to mean that organisations will increasingly need older employers to continue to work for longer. In considering what they can offer, the authors draw on Briggs (2017), the UK government’s business champion for older workers, who argues that older workers offer many positives in organisations including more experience, expertise and skill.

The authors also take an older worker’s perspective and look at what is meant by ‘older worker’, and why they would want or need to continue working. The primary focus here is on issues of meaning, purpose, connection, identity, sense of worth and the spiritual aspects to work. They examine the relationship that exists between organisations and employees and how the needs of employees change through their lifetime. The exploration includes looking at what these aspects mean for the way leaders and HR managers engage and motivate people, how culture and expectations have changed over time, the impact on the psychological contract and indeed the very language that is used when thinking about work, employment and retirement.

There are some fine examples of good practice in organisations and some informative and relevant research discussed. Considering the potential consequences for organisations, however, the authors argue that this is rather thin on the ground, and they call for more research in this area including issues connected to gender, culture and inter-generational conflict in the workplace. They argue that engaging the ageing workforce effectively is becoming an ever-increasing priority and is introducing needs that organisations have seldom recognised. They argue that all this requires a significant change from current practice in many organisations, and that a greater focus on the spiritual elements, identity, purpose and connectedness of reward in a more holistic, dialogic approach may be an important part to this.