There is no way the workplace could have escaped from the claws of the last of the –isms. Ageism is as ubiquitous as ever. The greatest problem with it is that it often works in more surreptitious ways than other types of discrimination; it is almost an acceptable practice. For this reason, it is as damaging as other stereotyping in that it renders a considerable proportion of the active workforce utterly unemployable.
Age discrimination is alive and well and it is up to the leaders to dodge the bullet by acknowledging and leveraging the valuable skills and immense experience older workers possess. The reasons are quite straightforward:
1) Older employees are long-haul oriented: The statistics do not lie: employees over 50 years old are 3 times more likely to stay in a role long term than those in the 25-34 age group. Thus, by employing older workers, companies increase retention which is a determining factor of growth.
2) Older employees have developed a better industry network: This translates into access to more valuable connections for a company which may allow leaders to save time and money across all levels and aspects of their organization’s operations.
3) Older employees provide guidance to younger workers: Their extensive knowledge and experience enable older workers to mentor their younger counterparts and show them the tricks of the trade. As a result, the performance of the latter is likely to improve.
4) Older employees are as “expensive” as their younger counterparts: Although health care premiums may be higher for older workers, they have fewer dependents which generally entail lower benefits costs. Interestingly enough, older workers also take fewer sick leaves which counterbalances the extra costs of life and health insurance benefits.
5) Older employees require less onboarding: Most older hires have probably held a similar or relevant position in the past. Therefore, the company will have to spend less time bringing them up to speed. Moreover, they have probably already experienced the ups and downs of the industry and, thus, may be able to provide answers to current, urgent business questions.