By the middle of this century, for the first time in human history there will be more people on this planet over the age of 60 than under the age of 15. In just five years, by 2020, there will be over a billion people over the age of 60 – a market almost as big as China’s 1.2 billion-strong population. Life expectancy stood at just 40 years at the start of the twentieth century; by 2013, it had reached 71. These profound shifts represent not just a challenge for cash-strapped governments but an opportunity for global businesses.

The white paper “How 21st century longevity can create markets and drive economic growth” explores the implications of our ageing population, and reveals some of the ways businesses are already grasping the grey dividend. Here are five examples of corporate approaches to ageing – read more in the full report.

1. Hire retired workers as trainers

The Internal Trainer and Retired Trainer Practice programme at Akbank uses the wealth of knowledge and experience of its retirees by hiring them to provide training to young employees. Almost all of the core banking training modules at Akbank are conducted by retirees. The programme, however, is not limited to retirees; it also offers young talent in the company an opportunity to provide technology education to older executives and retirees.

2. Redefine the corporate ladder

Deloitte’s Mass Career Customization (MCC) programme is a tool that enables it to dial up (increase responsibilities) and dial down (e.g. reduce their hours or travel) employees. The MCC framework articulates a set of options for the four core dimensions of a career – pace, workload, location/schedule and role – as well as the trade-offs associated with choices across the four dimensions. In collaboration with their managers, employees periodically select options based on their career objectives and life circumstances within the context of the needs of the business. MCC is a new model for careers that eliminates the linear, binary characteristics of the corporate ladder and replaces them with an adaptive framework that encourages adaptability and longer-view thinking as core competencies.

3. Design products with older consumers in mind

Fujitsu, Japan’s leading information and communications technology company, targeted the older consumer with its Raku-Raku smartphone series, developed with “easy-to-use, easy-to-hear and easy-to-read functionality”. Since 2001, more than 20 million units have been sold worldwide. In 2012, the company released a Raku-Raku smartphone designed to “enable users not acquainted with a touchscreen to operate the phone with the same ease-of-use as a conventional mobile phone”. The phone was quickly embraced by the market and led to the release of the Raku-Raku Smartphone 2 in 2013 that was further improved based on ageing population feedback.

4. Recruit older workers – and make benefits work for them

Home Instead Senior Care, one of the globe’s leading home healthcare operations, has discovered that hiring mature workers allows them to harness a positive relationship between caregivers and customers. In turn, Home Instead provides a package of benefits that reflects the specific needs of older employees. As a result of these initiatives, more than 30% of Home Instead’s caregivers are over the age of 60. Benefits include no pre-set age at which employees have to retire and the ability to direct a portion of “benefit dollars” across a range of options, including college savings plans or premiums for long-term care insurance. Given that roughly half of all elder care is for Alzheimer’s, the company has also made a training module for its caregivers freely available online globally.

5.Talk to older people, without preaching

Pfizer, the global pharmaceutical company, launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign called “Get Old”, encouraging people to take healthy choices. Of those who visit GetOld.com, 44% report having better eating habits and 35% claim to have started or improved an exercise routine. Pfizer also sponsors age-friendly community initiatives.

This post is based on a white paper from the Global Agenda Council on Ageing