Putting people first could remedy print’s age-old issue with old age

Printweek editor Darryl Danielli
Printweek editor Darryl Danielli

For more years than I care to remember we’ve talked about the print industry’s ageing workforce as a ‘ticking time bomb’ that will be our undoing.

It’s a fair point, because few would argue that there’s a glut of fresh talent joining the sector. But has our focus on encouraging young entrants meant we’ve taken for granted the mature talent already here?

Much has been written about the ‘great resignation’ and its impact on the economy, and in print, anecdotally at least, it seems a significant number of seasoned staff have left the industry in the past few years. Either through choice or pandemic forced necessity when their employer or role didn’t bounce back.

All of which means that any business looking to grow is being squeezed from both sides and is struggling to attract young and old alike. And in the case of the latter, is probably finding it increasingly difficult to retain the time-served pros they already have as the recruitment market hots up.

So, what to do?

Sure, if you can afford it, you could throw money at the issue, after all the cost-of-living crisis impacts all ages, but according to our feature (p26) that’s at best a sticking plaster.

In short, you would be better served by appreciating the talent you already have and trying to understand what they’re really looking for from the remaining years of their career.

Because while cold hard cash rarely hurts, it seems when it comes to the older workforce then even more important are the softer elements, like enjoying their job (AKA fun), feeling part of a team, sharing in the company’s success, and having a work/life balance.

Sadly, the cash and work/life balance elements aren’t in my gift, but if you’re looking for ways to offer points two, three and four, then you might want to take another look at this issue’s cover wrap.