As I was walking into my co-worker’s office about to tell her about writing this blog, she responded with a story of her retired father wanting to get back into the workforce, but feeling like he had to take 20 years of experience off his resume so they wouldn’t be able to trace his age, to avoid facing ageism. At first, I thought this was strange because I didn’t see how this would be a problem for him since more experience would mean he’s better qualified and he would instantly be chosen for the job. But then I remembered a previous co-worker who was looking for another job but kept getting turned down for being “overqualified”.
As we prepare to enter 2020 in a couple of months we have up to four generations active in the workforce. Whether it’s looking for jobs or promotions it’s getting crowded and competition is rising to see who can get in. While younger generations bringing a fresh perspective, we find there is the problem of ageism in the office. Although ageism has always seemed to be a problem, it is more prominent than ever as we become a more tech-based country, with companies willing to hire younger employees who are also willing to take a lower income. It’s no wonder why 33% of seniors feel like their job is in danger because of their age, as seen in this AARP survey. It’s beginning to feel like there is more competition between the generation of experience and the generation of potential.
With companies like AARP conducting surveys studying the effects of ageism in the office we see some scary statistics for anyone over the age of 46. Results show two out of three workers over the age of 45 experience age discrimination, 61% of workers say they have personally experienced age bias, and 91% of them believe that ageism is common. Some of the worst cases state that men and women between the ages 64 and 66 are largely denied interviews as opposed to those aged 49 to 51.
One of the reasons this ageism has become commonplace is that companies are looking for younger employees because tech is now essential in every business. Combine this with the fact that younger workers are more open to training, and willing to accept a lower income, and it’s not surprising to see companies like Hubspot have only 3% of employees over the age of 46. Although only 3% of Hubspot’s employees are over 46, 50% of those employees hold an executive position. If this is any reflection of how other companies operate then it shows how the older generation is not only competing against the younger generations but is also put against their own generation for executive positions. To combat ageism and bring generational diversity many companies such as Saks Fifth Ave and Workday are implementing ‘returnships’ where “experienced professionals get the training, support, and mentorship needed to relaunch their careers.” This offers those who have taken a break from their careers to ease their way back into the workforce. Workday has reported a 90% success rate in turning the ‘returnship’ into full-time positions. Generational diversity is needed in the workplace to have a successful company because it creates mentorships helping younger employees to expand their skills while contributing their own skills and perspective to the older generation.
So, is there any solution for someone as charming, intelligent, and experienced as yourself? Of course! BYOB…no not Bring Your Own Beer, Be Your Own Boss. Now, entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, but if you’ve been reluctant to start because you feel as though “ your time has passed” it’s been proven that entrepreneurs that start at a later age are more likely to succeed. What younger entrepreneurs lack when starting out is seeing the value in the knowledge that comes with years of experience in any field. Regardless of the reason for staying in the workforce even if you don’t have the funds to retire yet you can invest in your entrepreneurial dreams and see where entrepreneurship takes you. The odds are in favor of the experienced and knowledgeable.
The modern-day office has been suffering from ageism but it’s at times like these that a multi-generational office could be so beneficial. We are missing out on the opportunity to combine the best of each generation. It seems that older employees are better off looking for specific positions requiring experience or positions willing to catch them up on what they need. But, for those out there are looking for a way to lead, the entrepreneurial path is for you. So, dream big and take a chance on yourself because the statistics are in your favor, and they say it’s never too late to start!