The Great Workplace Challenge: How to Make Better Use of Older Workers
Posted: Oct 09, 2012
Why is it that individuals have such a hard time continuing to find work as they grow older, especially as employers complain about not being able to find workers with the right attitudes, who have the skills to “hit the group running,” and who can make immediate contributions?
One would think employers would be falling over themselves to retain older employees, to let them keep working in more flexible ways, and to hire other older workers. But they are not. There may be many reasons why older workers are not able to find opportunities to keep working, but most of them have to do with misperceptions about older workers. These are so widespread yet without basis that they can be thought of as myths, and they include the following: older workers don’t perform as well as younger workers, they demand high pay and cost a lot more, they don’t want to change, they won’t take a step down in role, and so forth.
Discrimination against older workers is widespread — indeed, by most measures, greater than that confronting minorities and women.
And the biggest obstacle in getting access to jobs lies with younger managers. The biggest concern about hiring older workers expressed by employers is that conflicts would result when they are managed by invariably younger supervisors. An incredible 88 percent of employers worry about hiring older workers because of such conflicts. The heart of the difficulty of getting older workers into successful work relationships lies with the challenge of having younger managers supervise employees who are older than they are.