Age in the workplace

Age in the workplace

February 9, 2020 0 By Rick

Imagine this, you have more than 30 years of experience in your field, but you’ve been advised NOT to state so in your CV when applying for a job. Instead, you’re told to say you only have 20 years of experience, so potential employers won’t think you’re out of touch with the latest developments. This is a problem that many jobseekers over 50 are facing today. Instead of embracing the age and experience of people over 50, employers often see them as a liability. Older professionals can identify patterns more easily and often have deep network connections. “Research shows us that generativity flows downhill,” says Dr. Melanie Katzman, business psychologist and author of Connect First: 52 Simple Ways to Ignite Success, Meaning, and Joy at Work.   

60 is the new 30
Older professionals often want to leave their legacy and to help new recruits who are coming up behind them. Boomers aren’t retiring, they’re rewiring. Aging boomers and workers from younger generations can work together to change the world and employers need to understand this. With global life expectancy increasing from 53 in 1960 to 72 in 2015 (and still increasing) and worldwide birth rates declining, business must adjust to the demographic shift taking place. Careers are lasting far longer than ever before. Yet so far, most companies have ignored this changing situation and continue to view age as a disadvantage. But in today’s tight labor market, companies need to rethink this approach. Older professionals bring a variety of skills to the table, including institutional knowledge, experience and the ability to mentor and train younger people, as well as learn from younger coworkers.

Tandem mentoring
Tandem mentoring is a two-way relationship between older professionals and younger coworkers that enables both generations to learn from each other and leverage the talent of an aging pool of talent. There are two other reasons for hiring older workers. Many high-performing professionals have a mentor to thank for their success, and a multigeneration team can work together to prevent problems arising from generational stereotypes. Nevertheless, many employers don’t hire older workers with open arms, preferring to believe in negative generalizations about the stamina, cost and technological ability of older workers. But they are ignoring some surprising statistics. The two age groups expected to have the fastest annual rates of labor-force growth are 65to 74 and 75 and older, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many boomers are outliving their money, while others continue doing what they love.

Worldwide population aging
“The world will look much older in the decades to come, and employers must adapt to this demographic shift,” Paul Irving, chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of AgingIrving also cited a recently published report, “Next Stage: Are You Age-Ready?” In the report, researchers speculate that companies and organizations still believe that people want to retire in their early 60s and have the savings to do it. Moreover, they mistakenly believe that vast numbers of young people are poised to enter the workforce despite the evidence of declining birth rates in most developed countries. Yvonne Smyth, head of diversity and inclusion at the global recruitment firm Hays, wrote in a recent post that “given the differences between generations, and the coming seismic demographic changes we are witnessing, HR directors should be putting the topic of an aging workforce at the top of their agenda.” Smythe believes that employers who truly value age diversity will be able to take advantage of a fantastic pool of talented older professionals. And to someone who is well past 70 but continues to enjoy working and staying active – that’s music to my ears! I never say I’m retired – just in between “gigs.”