An Age-Inclusive Workforce
“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ― Madeleine L’Engle.
The workplace is ageing, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40% of Americans who were looking for work were over the age of 55. The UK Office for National Statistics estimates that 10% of the population aged 65 and older are still working, a statistic that has increased overall from previous years. Better health, fewer children, and the need and energy to work, all contribute to an older population that works well past the traditional retirement age.
Jane Byrne from FirstCare nursing home Wicklow, “As the workplace ages, traditional ideas about retirement and older workers should also change. Instead of pushing out older employees, just because they’re close to retirement, employers should be utilizing their knowledge and wisdom. An age inclusive workplace requires mutual respect and cooperation and contributions from employees. What better way to utilize everyone in a company, than to treat all the workforce equally, no matter their age. “. A study from Symbol of Statistics Canada shows different ratios of the older population in different occupations. This only proves that despite of age, older adults are effective in any field you place them.
The news is frequently filled with stories about people being laid off due to age. IBM is facing multiple lawsuits for laying off over 100,000 individuals who were older than 40. Their reasoning behind the layoffs cited the need for a younger, trendier vibe, something akin to Google or Facebook. Instead of utilizing the talent below them, the company sought to hire Millennials, stating they, “are generally much more innovative and receptive to technology than baby boomers.” And in 2015, the chipmaker Intel began a mass layoff process, removing 17,000 individuals from their workforce who were all over the age of 40.
If you’re a company, look at the results from these massive layoffs. IMB is now facing multiple lawsuits and its overall revenue continues to shrink. And Intel? Also facing multiple lawsuits that have been going on since 2016, costing thousands of dollars. Naturally, laws exist to protect older workers, but what is needed is more than just laws. The pervading mentality that older adults are not fit or qualified to work, once they reach a certain age needs to change and instead, companies need to see what an older workforce has to offer. As times change, and people continue to work as they age, companies need to accept and accommodate their older workforce.
For starters, the older generations should be listened to. They have experience, knowledge, and oftentimes a better understanding of how things work. Their voices should be heard just as often as the younger generations. While older generations may struggle with technology, their methods of communication, particularly face-to-face is often stronger than Millennials. Use their experience to create a stronger work environment.
Listen to employees to create a multigenerational workplace culture. Acknowledge and reward them, no matter their age for jobs well done. Ensure that multigenerational education happens, whether it be seminars or simply informative emails. On social media, acknowledge your inclusive workplace, and show the world that you have an age inclusive workforce and that you’re utilizing talent across the generations. And when you’re successful, advertise it. Look at this Starbucks in Mexico that is staffed entirely by older employees. Not only does it benefit the workers, but also Starbucks.
As you seek out the talents an older worker might have, it would be a good idea to create mentorships that span generations to allow employees to teach and socialize with each other. It would be an opportunity for workers to share their knowledge; be it a younger worker demonstrating an app or an older employee sharing ways to listen and relate. Simply, utilize talents no matter the age to create a unified and diverse company that is able to change and grow.
As the workforce ages, medical bills are bound to arise. As a company, ensure that there are health programs, good insurance, and flexible work arrangements in place to support everyone. It’s not just the older workforce that needs flexible work arrangements either. Parents who have young children, single parents, young workers with serious health issues all need medical care and flexible work arrangements to continue working. Creating workplace initiatives that accommodate employees helps retain employees by creating a loyalty that most companies crave.
Creating a workplace that suits the employees is a way to make everyone feel welcome and work their hardest. Many companies seeking a younger vibe have open offices with bright lights and very open spaces, but this isn’t a traditional work environment for older workers. Many people, no matter their age, prefer to work in a quieter, more private environment, whilst others prefer to be out in the open among people. Know your employees and create a space that works with them, not against them. Additionally, ensure that your website, email, and social media are age inclusive and easily accessible.
Lastly, ensure that workers are informed of non-discriminatory hiring practices. Keep employees informed of laws and regulations, especially as they change. Ensure that people are hired based on merit and not on how they may fit within your company. Furthermore, all employees should be gauged based on their talents, not just their age or how they may fit best within your company. Employees should be in the role that best suits them, no matter their age. Utilizing talents creates a stronger workforce that is able to tackle whatever comes at them.
Change your mentality. Older workers help, not hinder a company. As the workforce ages and changes, companies must also change their attitudes to become more inclusive of a variety of ages.
Author Bio: Holly Clark is a freelance health writer, with a focus on elder care and well-being. You can find her writing samples here: https://hollyclark.contently.com