Ageism is a growing issue around the world, and the World Health Organisation highlighted this in their first global report on ageism, indicating that one out of every two persons globally is ageist against older persons.
We are living in a talent short market, there is a shortage of lower-skilled and knowledgeable workers, which is a result of COVID and immigration restrictions. We need now, more than ever, workers who are talented, capable, and passionate about their work. Yet older workers are being ignored due to ageism when they have the necessary experience and qualifications for the role but are excluded because of their age!
A study in America involved 40,000 fake CVs sent in response to vacancies for low-skilled jobs. The study found that applicants between 49 and 51 had 19% fewer call-backs than those aged 29 – 31, with otherwise identical CVs. For the older group of 64 – 66-year old’s, there was a dramatic 35 percent difference…
Technology and medicine are advancing at an exponential rate. We now have access to medicine, food, and knowledge that did not exist 100 years ago. This means that people are living longer (almost another lifetime longer!) and can perform the same tasks in their 60’s as they did in their 30’s. Why aren’t businesses realising the value of the older workforce?
So, why hire older employees?
(1) Older workers are skilled and experienced
Older employees bring with them a wealth of knowledge and life skills which generally includes a very strong work ethic. In certain industries, it can take over a decade to develop the technical skills necessary to succeed in your role. Many younger employees bring a can-do attitude when doing their job but make mistakes, whereas older employees know what questions to ask. Their knowledge and experience allow them to make more informed decisions in a timely manner without handholding and second-guessing.
(2) They stay in jobs longer and take less time off
Studies have shown that the median tenure of workers aged 55-64 is 10.4 years, which is more than three times the number of workers aged 25-34 years (US Bureau of Labour Statistics). Certain industries, such as retail and restaurants, have a 100% turnover rate per year. These businesses would benefit from hiring older employees as they have families to support so have “a reason to come into work” compared with younger workers who come and go more frequently.
(3) They have a strong work ethic and great attitude
Older workers, generally, are the first to arrive at a shift, rarely miss work, and remain focused throughout the day. Having focused and committed workers leads to increases in team morale and overall organisational performance. Older workers also tend to take on responsibilities beyond their existing ones and can wear multiple hats.
(4) The perceived technology gap can be overcome
We must break the age-old stereotype that older people cannot pick up new technologies, as this can have a negative impact on their mental health and be a missed opportunity for the business. Businesses that are willing to train older employees and are patient throughout this process will reap the added benefits.
(5) Leadership skills
Older workers who have been in a role or industry for over a decade are often good leaders, in large part due to their intrinsic communication skills. They did not grow up with email, texting, or social media – these communication capabilities were developed during their working life. As a result of this, they usually have sharp communication and people skills.
(6) Older workers are mentors
Older workers have valuable knowledge and experience, that can be passed down to younger members of the workforce. This allows for relationships and trust to be built between workers and each generation can bounce off each other.
In this current talent shortage, employers need to find talent wherever it is – young or old. It is tried and tested that those older workers provide many intangible benefits that younger workers simply can’t deliver on. The time has come to re-examine age bias and start including it in your Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategies.