Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Great to see ageism being taken seriously and brought ‘centre stage’ with the inaugural ‘Champion Age Diversity Day’ on June 11th.
While diversity is key for any successful business, there are still issues to be resolved in ensuring that age is no longer a barrier to individuals seeking or wishing to remain in employment , and that ageism is no longer a barrier for employers to engage and retain an older workforce.
The demographic of our workforce is changing as the population ages, and pension age increases. In times of high employment and an acknowledged skills shortage, companies can’t afford to ignore the benefits older workers bring to the workplace.
Gender, disability and race have been on the agenda for diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and yet ageism, although legislated against, is still a problem. In many instances it may be unconscious discrimination, such as the insecurity of a younger hiring manager concerned about how to manage an older worker being a factor, rather than corporate culture driving the hiring profile.
The benefits an older worker can bring to the workplace.
They bring maturity and confidence
- They tend to be less ‘flappable’ and react well in a crisis
- They offer a wealth of skills and experience
- They make excellent mentors
- They are used to multi-tasking and hence have strong organisational skills
- They have excellent people skills and are able to communicate across the generations
- They are reliable and motivated to work
- They tend not to take as many ‘ad hoc’ days away from work
- They can take their holidays outside of the peak school holiday period
- They stay in their jobs longer so reduce recruitment costs and create more continuity
Last, but not least, they have already demonstrated that they are capable of adapting to change. The workplace has changed enormously since today’s 50 something employee entered the workplace. I can remember starting work where manual typewriters (with carbon paper and tippex) and ‘adding machines’ were the norm. There were no computers, no spreadsheets, no social media, no emails. The working day revolved around ensuring documents were ready to meet the 4pm post collection. Today’s older worker has adapted and thrived in a changing world. They can continue to do so.
Let’s hope that by having initiatives such as ‘Champion Age Diversity Day’ will help to end ageism is the workplace, and serve to focus on the benefits inclusivity can bring.