7 Reasons You Want To Actively Recruit And Hire These Employees Now

When companies began jumping on the diversity and inclusion (D&I) bandwagon en masse in the late 80s and early 90s, it seemed a natural extension of affirmative action and equal opportunity programs. Over time, company D&I slogans moved from diversity being the “right thing to do” to diversity “being good for business.” Company leaders began to recognize the importance of creating an employee culture that reflected their customer base and community. And, while age has been a protected category since the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in 1967, it has not, generally speaking, been at the forefront of D&I strategy.

champion age diversityWhile D&I programs have moved the needle in the significant areas of race, gender and sexual orientation, ageism has been relegated to the side-lines. As a result, age prejudice has seeped into the workplace. Due in part to implicit bias, where the offender is not aware of the offense; for example, a younger worker implying than an older worker works at a slower pace. Implicit bias perpetuates “age myths” in the workplace. “As it turns out, there is a lot of research on older workers’ attitudes, productivity and ability,” according to Vantage. “The data looks at many different variables, but all comes to the same conclusion – virtually all of the stereotypes about the older workers do not hold up to reality.”

Now, older workers are calling attention to ageism in hiring, promotions, development opportunities and redundancy. Most significant, the effects of ageism are felt by everyone across all races, genders and sexual orientation.

Why? Because aging is the one thing we all share, but that’s also an advantage for organisations, as giving consideration to age diversity, provides for a total intersectional view across all D&I streams, across the whole workforce.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, older workers represent the largest candidate pool in the workplace. And to correlate with the increase in older workers is an increase in reports of age discrimination according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in some cases complaints have nearly doubled.

While some industries (such as tech) skew toward an under 40 workforce, the reality is that there are many benefits for recruiting, hiring and retaining older workers.



Here are seven of them:

  1. Overlooked Talent Pool.Picking is ripe in the pool of qualified candidates with years of experience under their belts. If you need talent and someone who can pass the knowledge baton, this talent pool is where you want to look.
  2. Varied experiences. The youngest boomers, for example, have been in the working world for about 35 years. In many cases, that means a variety of career experiences across a broad scope of opportunity brings a lot to the table. Older workers typically have an array of skills that includes specialties as well as generalizations. Ask a typical boomer how many versions of their resume they have to understand the breadth of their experience. Ask them for years of service in a particular field to understand depth. Both add value.
  3. Stay longer. Data shows that older workers tend to stay longer with their employer. If you want to lower your turnover rate while increasing the level of experience this is a good way to do it.
  4. Flexible learning styles. Older workers have already experienced profound changes in their working world–from typewriters to word processors to everything digital. They have learned via classroom and online. Their flexibility and adaptability keep them in the game because change is the status quo and they know it.
  5. Shorter learning curve. Given their comfort with change and flexible learning styles, older workers adapt quickly to change, and that means learning anything related to business success–even (gasp) technology. As this TechRepublic report states, older workers are less stressed about using technology than younger people.
  6. Add valuable perspective.Diverse teams yield better decisions as this study suggests. Including age as a diversity component lays the foundation for a rich exchange of information.
  7. Motivated to work. Older workers are motivated to work for a variety of reasons, including the desire to stay in the game, share their knowledge and skills to make a positive impact and pad their retirement so as not to become a financial burden to the children. Doesn’t every company covet a motivated employee who is willing to go above and beyond?

There is, of course, another reason to consider making ageism an important D&I area of focus. Routinely eliminating workers over 40 from your workforce and avoiding them as potential hires is discrimination. For an example of companies doing right, this article highlights a few organizations that have stepped up their game to be fully inclusive of employees–age included.

Focusing on ageism as a true strategic component of any D&I initiative requires some catching up. “There is a lot more talk in business circles about the human capital value of older workers, but we’re still in early innings,” said Paul Irving, chairman of the Center for the Future of Aging at the Milken Institute. “It takes time for things to percolate.”

You will see from our ‘News & Views’ section that together with our own content and information, we invite external contributions, and the above piece came from Sheila Callaham, who wrote this for Forbes.  Sheila is an author and long-time communications professional with experience in newspaper, public affairs, and corporate storytelling. After spending over a decade managing diversity and inclusion for a major pharmaceutical company, Sheila resigned to spend more time with family, write, and coach others to chase their dreams. Sheila is part of our mission to promote a productive, multi-generational workforce, and to demonstrate how such an environment can lead to happier, healthier, and higher-skilled employees.