In April of 2020, the unemployment rate reached its highest point since the Great Depression, yet stubborn performance-related myths and discrimination have continued to older workers out of the workforce.
Season workers continue to be undervalued; despite the expertise they often bring to the table. While many organizations have taken a conscious approach to combat ageism, negative assumptions about the agility and tenacity of older workers continue to permeate corporate society.
Despite the fact that most hiring managers and recruiters take measures to prevent one’s age from impacting their eligibility for a role, ageism is tricky because of how it can evade anti-discrimination safeguards.
Additionally, sometimes recruiters and hiring managers are not even aware of the discriminatory reasons they reject older applicants, because unconscious bias is just that: unconscious.
Given that we are in a global labor shortage that shows no signs of waning any time soon, age should be factored into any DEI conversations and/or initiatives. “At a time when we would want more people participating in the labor force, we’ve got a relatively healthy, very educated, skilled section of the population that’s being cut out of the workforce.” Joseph Coleman, author of Unfinished Work: The Struggle to Build an Aging Workforce.
In a study involving 40,000 job applicants, results showed that older candidates received dramatically fewer call-backs as their age increased. This number was compounded for women in this category. Sadly, this information isn’t new and doesn’t come as a surprise.
Discrimination, of all kinds, is alive and well, but there is some positive progress being made. Social justice movements in recent years along with the increased focus on DEI in the workplace have helped to, albeit slowly, move the needle to create a more welcoming space for all.
The fact is, we’re behind the ball when it comes to our aging workforce, and a reckoning is coming that won’t wait for the status-quo to catch up. In 2024, approximately 25% of the workforce will be 55 or older, and that number is rising.
Here are reasons to make ageism the next “ism” to bite the dust in the fight for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace:
Mature workers can be excellent mentors to younger employees.
Enlisting a seasoned, experienced worker to train less experienced recruits can help your organization save time and money. Bonus? Learning tends to work both ways in these relationships. The younger, “greener” employees can return the favor by sharing their knowledge and expertise with social media and other forms of technology.
With age comes empathy.
Simply put, older workers have been there and done that. They’ve also grown from their experiences and can model how to handle workplace stressors and navigate difficult situations.
With experience comes value…and a shorter learning curve.
By tapping into a wealth of experience, older workers are uniquely positioned to use their related skills and experience to help them learn faster. Older workers bring maturity, experience, and diversity – making them an asset to any team.
Older workers tend to be more loyal.
Due to the challenges older job seekers face when navigating the hiring market, older workers are less likely to leave in search of the next shiny opportunity, unlike Millennials and Gen Z workers, who have earned their own reputation for job-hopping.
Are you stuck in a holding pattern while in your search for experienced, skilled, and loyal employees?