Research Library Article


Older Workers and Predictive Analytics

David Earle

SHRM’s research into the value of older workers, plus IBM’s guidance on how to build a successful analytics capability within HR and why the time to do it is now.

In 2014, SHRM Research began a three year partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study the impact of changing demographics on the corporate workforce together with the actions employers were taking to prepare for those changes. Among the findings:

  • Virtually all employers (99%) reported that older workers possessed more than a dozen valuable qualities including maturity, professionalism, reliability, work ethic, loyalty, tacit knowledge and applied skills
  • Despite more than a decade of publicity concerning changing workforce demographics, one-third of the survey respondents still had not yet taken steps to cope with the departure of older workers
  • Some efforts to address the loss of senior workers were 2-3 times more effective than others

The changing demographic of the workforce is only one component of the larger issue of strategic workforce management, but it is a good reference point because: a) it’s problem with a long and predictable forward view; b) it has been well publicized for more than a decade; and c) it offers a window into employers’ reluctance to invest in the many kinds of strategic metrics that have become an increasingly important part of HR’s reason for being. 

Recognizing the difficulty many employers still have transitioning HR from an operational to a strategic business partner, IBM has published two studies: Unlock the people equation, and Starting the workforce analytics journey. 


The first study examines:

  • the types of problems organizations are attempting to solve with workforce analytics
  • How organizations approach these problems and the analytic techniques they use
  • The capabilities needed to be effective with workforce analytics
  • The obstacles most frequently encountered and how to avoid them

The second study offers an organizational time line for the first 100 day of a new workforce analytics initiative. It’s a four phase approach including direction setting, defining the approach, growing one’s capability and implementation. 


Where to find the Research
Title   The Aging Workforce - Basic and Applied Skills
  IBM, Unlock the People Equation
  Starting the Workforce Analytics Journey