Is There Such Thing as Being Too Old For the Workplace?

October 17, 2018 | 1,339 views

Is There Such Thing as Being Too Old For the Workplace?

Is There Such Thing as Being Too Old For the Workplace?

You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but how about the older generations in your workplace? Can they learn? Absolutely, and yet many employers are no longer welcoming people from older generations.


In a recent survey by the nonprofit, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS), the findings prove that there’s a disconnect between what employers think they’re doing to welcome older generations, and what older employees think. Here are a few takeaways:-


82% of employers believe they’re supportive of employees working past 65, but only 72% of workers agree.


The majority of employer respondents said 70 was too old for the workforce, but workers said 75 was the age when people were too old to work.


There’s a clear disconnect. Workers don’t feel supported by their employer to continue working past the typical retirement age, and yet employers believe they’re doing their part. One reason for this disconnect could be an implicit bias.


Are You Guilty of an Implicit Bias?

Harvard University created Project Implicit, which is a program designed to test individuals and draw out implicit biases that linger beneath the surface of our conscious brains. Although we, as people, might believe we don’t hold biases, this test proves otherwise.


One of the implicit association tests that exists is for age. In this, Harvard researchers found that Americans tend to have an automatic preference for young people over old. It’s this finding that showcases one of the core reasons why workers don’t feel supported by employers who think they’re doing what they can to support older generations in the workplace.


Can Technology Help Reduce Our Implicit Biases?

It might seem counterintuitive to think that adding in new technological advancements could help bridge the gap between generations. After all, Millennials grew up with the Internet and smartphones became commonplace in their youth, when they were at a prime age to learn how to embrace the devices into their daily lives. For older generations, these technological tools are newer and harder to adopt. And yet, technology could be key.


People, regardless of age, like to learn new things. It’s a progression that keeps a person feeling in-tune with the world around them. Despite common biases, older workers often welcome learning a more efficient mode of operation.


Take scheduling as an example. It’s tempting to stay with antiquated scheduling practices that happen in spreadsheets and on paper because that’s familiar. But training your team, regardless of age, how to use an online scheduling app can help keep everyone on the same page. The more the entire team embraces the app, the more everyone stays in sync.  


The key is to showcase why it’s important and why it can benefit the organization as a whole. The more this is understood, the more all workers are willing to learn, adapt, and embrace new technology. And when the entire organization adapts these tools, implicit associations are challenged, which can improve the level of support older employees feel from their colleagues.


Is There Such Thing as Being Too Old For the Workplace?

People can work long past the standard retirement age. With the right attitude of embracing new business practices, older generations can make it easier to stay relevant around the office and in today’s fast-paced world. Younger generations must also do a better job at welcoming these generations to stick around by acknowledging illicit biases that exist. All team members must do what they can to help train their colleagues in new skills that progress the company forward. When that happens, everyone wins, regardless of age.



Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

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