Today, people are living and working for longer than ever before which mean there is a new challenge for employers for how to effectively support and retain older workers.
If you’re not familiar with the term, the “grey ceiling”; it is a term used to describe the age discrimination that many older job seekers and workers face while they’re searching for jobs or seeking promotions. Although employers aren’t allowed to discriminate based upon age, getting hired can be a challenge when you’re viewed as an “older” worker.
Studies Point to Greater Age Discrimination
Several research studies have shown that older people face discrimination when seeking jobs and a survey of businesses by Capita Resourcing found that three-quarters of HR leaders agree that they still need to address their managers’ unconscious age bias during recruitment processes.
We hear a lot about diversity and inclusion today, but some people seem to forget that this means age, too, and the business case for diversity applies to older workers. New evidence from McKinsey and Co., in their report Delivering through Diversity, shows that the more diverse a workforce, the more productive and more successful the company will be – this includes peoples age! Therefore, retaining older workers makes good business sense.
However, sometimes employers and managers think that age predicates incapability and that older workers are unable to carry out their role effectively when in reality, the benefits of employing older workers are endless but to focus on a few they include dedication, punctuality, reliability, maturity, setting a good example and being a role model to younger workers.
So, what can you do to help promote the benefits of an age-diverse workforce?
You can start by spreading positive messages regarding how age diversity can benefit the workplace. State the business case of diversity and make sure you include age – you know it makes sense, so don’t let any millennials tell you otherwise.
Make Sure Your Skills Are Used Appropriately
If you’re going to be put in charge of Facebook, downloading a free proposal template or setting up webinars when you’ve never done any of this before then that is not a good use of your skills and doesn’t benefit you or the company you work for. Make sure that your wealth of skills and experience, as well as transferable skills, are put to good use. Don’t let anyone put you off for being ‘too experienced’ either. There are many reasons why you might want a job that is at a lower level than you have previously carried out, you may wish to less responsibility but still, want to use your skills in the workplace. This is okay; you would be an asset to any company, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Positively Enforce Intergenerational working
Remember that older and younger workers can learn so much from each other, so provide opportunities for working together. If your company isn’t doing it then, how about you implement intergenerational mentoring programmes? Find things that you want to learn from the young ones and ask them if there’s anything they want to learn from you – or if you have noticed there are skills they are not particularly good at or are lacking in, then teach them!