The United Nations has designated October 1 as “International Day of Older Persons”. The aim of the day is to recognise the opportunities and challenges posed by the ageing population increase.
Many more people over the age of 65 are capable of continuing in paid employment. We are also seeing a step change in entrepreneurship amongst people over 50. Many are opting to start their own business and pursue their talents and passions in a more meaningful way.
Some of the employers and business owners we work with have highlighted their biggest challenge and risk is attracting and retaining talent. Is it time to get below the waterline to check out what talent may be readily available if we shift our mindset on older workers?
Are we engaging in stereotypical thinking when we think of our older workers or our older colleagues? Perhaps thinking they are ‘set in their ways’ or likely to ‘retire’ soon. Or not capable of performing the work that a younger person can?
Let’s run a reality checker across some of these ‘myths’:
Myth 1: Older workers are getting in the way of younger workers.
Reality: The consensus view amongst economists is that the quantity of labour demanded varies with respect to many factors. This includes the economic impact of Covid. Far from damaging job prospects, keeping more older people in work provides some stability and may provide relief from worker shortages.
Myth 2: They are nearing 65 so will retire soon.
Reality: New Zealand does not have a retirement age. At age 65 there is an entitlement to national superannuation.
Myth 3: Different generations have different orientations to work.
Reality: Research has failed to demonstrate the attributes often associated with people of different generational age groups such as “Gen Y’, etc. actually exist. To attribute stereotypical characteristics to people born in a given period is unhelpful and may be viewed as ageist.
Is it time to take a fresh perspective on how we engage with and value our older workers? I am not talking about an age specification, per se, but a focus on ‘life stages’. What is important to your older workers? How can you create a win/win whereby you engage loyal, experienced, and productive talent. And where your older workers feel supported to embrace a better later (working) life.