For workers that are fifty years of age or older, unemployment looms large. It turns out that 50 is the new 65 when it comes to getting hired for these completely capable individuals. For this age group, the long-term unemployment rate remains stubbornly high—31.5%. And even though age-discrimination charges have declined, they remain at peak pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, critics note that some corporate re-entry programs are not a great deal, because they pay little or no salary, offer no benefits such as medical/dental and 401K; and ultimately turn out to be a distraction that prevents workers from seeking full-time, gainful employment.
Age discrimination is not picky. This form of discrimination does not care if you are Black or white; poor or wealthy; male or female; or gay or straight. In the job market, it impacts our very survival and our sense of ourselves in the world.
New research shows that age discrimination may be even more common than we thought and more prevalent than other forms of bias, like ethnic discrimination. According to a study published in the Journal of Age and Ageing, one-third of British people in their fifties and above reported age discrimination. From poorer service in restaurants to poor treatment in hospitals to outright harassment, people found themselves increasingly disrespected as they aged.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against workers and certain job applicants 40 and over based on age. Unfortunately, business practices beginning in the 1980s loosened all of these tightened controls as companies began to outsource jobs and favor less expensive, younger workers who were perceived to be more easily molded into the future direction the company would be taking. Share-holder value became far more important than maintaining a workforce that was experienced, loyal, and willing to work however hard it was required for the success of the company.
Benefits of Hiring 50 and Over Workers
The reality is, workers that are 50 years of age and older bring a diverse and unique set of experiences and perspectives. The other reality is that many workers in this age group are tech-savvy because they have interests such as travel, music, and other hobbies that have kept them current with the latest Smartphone, tablets, applications, and social media.
There are many reasons to hire workers that are 50 years of age or older. Here are the top five reasons that hiring an experienced, over 50 workers should be a priority:
1. Leadership Skills
Older workers have already climbed the corporate ladder, and most likely managed large, cross-functional, and diverse teams. This type of management experience is a wealth of knowledge that can help the business to flourish during tough times.
Technology is not optional — it is the lifeline of connectedness to the world. Older workers have already made many transitions from all different types of computers, printers and memory devices. Older workers were productive back in the day when a floppy disk, a dot matrix printer, and MS DOS were the technology tools of choice. Adaptation to newer and ever-improving technology was not optional, it was and still is imperative. Older workers are tech savvy.
3. Work Ethic
Older workers come to the business to work. They are not as easily distracted as their younger counterparts by the surfing the web, checking Facebook or Tweeting while on the job. The over 50 worker is a hard worker that minds deadlines and respects that they are expected to put in a hard day’s work for the money that they earn. Older workers waste much less time than other employees and spend their time doing their job.
4. Natural Mentors
With many years of experience, older workers have a lot to offer younger employees. This experience can be invaluable to the management team because it can be transferred to younger, less experienced workers. More importantly, older workers will likely know how to complete a specific task or project without having to look it up on Google or watch a video on youtube. As a result, older workers lend themselves naturally to becoming non-threatening mentors because they offer valuable insight and experience.
5. Less Absence
It truly is a myth that older workers will be out more often than younger workers. In fact, quite the opposite, chances are, older workers will not need to leave early to pick up a sick child from school, or take many months off for maternity/paternity leave.
A recent study by an insurance company found that younger workers take twice as much time off sick and are more likely to fake illness to take time off work.
Just a quarter of over-50s took time off sick in the past year, compared to half of those aged between 20 and 29.
Workers that are over 50 were also less likely to take time off due to minor illness such as the common cold and were quicker to come back to work after being ill.