The Value Older Workers bring to the Market Place

This week AARP Bulletin’s cover article is “Ageism in the Workplace, it’s time to end the last acceptable bias.”1 They report statistics from a 2018 EEOC report on age discrimination that include high percentages indeed. Dislocated older workers now number in the hundreds of thousands if not a million or more. This many affected workers could unite and start a movement that might swing the pendulum the other way.

Another way to look at this can be seen in a recently published Harvard Business Review article, “The Case for Hiring Older Workers.”2 This report speaks to the increased diversity, wisdom and stability older workers can bring to teams. It states knowledge and expertise increase after age 30. The story also offers solutions that companies can use to enable older workers. Fortunately, there are companies that are already doing this; SafeStreets USA, H&M and Wegmans to name a few.

To be fair there are realities companies need to deal with. For one, healthcare costs for older workers are much higher than younger workers. Not even Obamacare is cost effective at age 60. Another very important point is the digital age is redefining work and the workplace daily. New jobs that never existed before are embraced by younger more tech savvy workers because they are born into this age. It is tough to compete with that when decades of experience do not correlate with something brand new. Still a diverse mix should include older workers for a truly balanced team.

For me the job search is longer than I would like it to be, but I remain optimistic. Perhaps the gig economy is the right place to be. I’m taking online training to update my skills and have contacts to sell my expertise to. In the not too distant future maybe Baby Boomers and Gen X will see a rebalance in the system. To be sure there is much more discussion and action to come on this issue.

  1. From AARP Bulletin, January/February 2020
  2. From Harvard Business Review online, Generational Issues | The Case For Hiring Older Workers