The Great Resignation, the Covid-19 employee exodus, and the explosion of the Gig Economy have left many HR hiring teams mentally and physically exhausted. For some companies and industries they’ve hit a crisis point and are being forced to shift the way that they do business and that includes who and how their hire.
Boomers are being overlooked
More and more people are working into their 70s and beyond – some by choice, others out of financial need. Yet despite the staffing shortages, many companies continue to have a bias against anyone over 60 when it comes to hiring. In fact, I see the bias toward people in their 50s!
Some of the bias is financial. Healthcare costs continue to rise, and it’s far more expensive to insure a 60-year-old than it is a 30-year-old. But the bias goes beyond the almighty dollar.
There is a perception that the Boomer generation isn’t tech savvy, is unwilling to change or adapt to new processes and can easily be replaced by a younger worker who will be a part of the team for decades not years. Here’s a news flash, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.1 years in January 2022. People aren’t staying for decades – regardless of age, yet I can’t tell you how often I get this concern from hiring leaders “She (He) is 60 – they just want to ride it out until they retire in 5 years, and we will be back to square one in the hiring process.”
What can we gain from “older workers”? A lot!
The Harvard Business Review shared, “For most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise – the main predictors of job performance – keep increasing even beyond the age of 80…When it comes to learning new things, there is no age limit and the more intellectually engaged people remain when they are older, the more they will contribute to the labor market.”
Diversifying your workforce by employing highly experienced and “retirement aged” individuals make sense – not only because of the labor shortage but because this sector of talent adds significant value to teams.
It’s all about mentorship, insight and experience.
We have glorified youth in business. Although a 30-year-old Harvard valedictorian may be brilliant, he or she simply does not have the world experience someone in their 60s or 70s possesses. The incredible value that a senior employee brings to a team is priceless. Every highly successful business owner, senior management executive and/or team leader I know didn’t get their alone – they’ve had mentors along the way, and many still rely on their mentors for guidance and insight. Corporate America is missing out by excluding perhaps the richest labor source we have, but I feel the tides are shifting against age bias.
I’m a firm believer that companies – like people – need to hit a rock bottom moment (or close to it) before they move outside their comfort zone to unchartered waters. The current situation in the labor market may be just that when it comes to age bias. It’s time companies shift the script and rethink their perception on age longevity. We are living longer and working longer – people of every age are motivated to expand their career options. If you create a culture of true inclusion that embraces older employees – you may just find your company evolves to be more innovative and earn the coveted title of “Best Place to Work in 2023”.
Of course, I may be biased, as I’m 64 and retirement is not on my radar in the near future. I’m just getting started!
Over the past year plus, many people who had plans to change jobs ended up staying put due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. The “Great Resignation”, coined by Anthony Lotz of Texas A&M University during an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, predicts that those employees are now ready to make their move. In fact, a recent study by Microsoft found that 41% of the global workforce would be open to leaving their current job within the next year.
Change is on the horizon, if not already here. Many of my clients are bringing 100% of their remote workers back into the office over the next few months, several are creating hybrid models – some remote, some office time – while others are closing brick and mortar offices in part to embrace the “new way of working.”
It’s about who you know. The power of your network. Most business owners are only tapping into a tiny fraction of that power because by nature we feel uncomfortable admitting we have a gap and/or we have a hidden fear that it’s a sign of weakness if we need to ask for help.
With the myriad regulations and laws in place, we shouldn’t still be talking about Gender Equality in the workplace, but we are. Pay equality is vital, and while that’s a big part of the big picture, it’s not the only issue at play. Poor maternity leave policies, sexual harassment, and unconscious bias also top the list of disadvantages preventing women from succeeding and thriving in the workplace. It’s not just a US problem, it’s a global problem.
We are seeing a huge paradigm shift in corporate business culture where companies are embracing the mindset of Millennials – flexibility, culture fit, community, collaboration and team versus the “way it’s always been is the way we are going to be.” In fact, I believe that shift is our new normal.
Wayne Gretzky, retired NHL hockey player, is famed for saying “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Babe Ruth, famous Red Sox turned Yankees baseball player, has several famous quotes to his name, one of them being, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”
Have you ever noticed that some of the happiest and most fulfilled people are those who spend time giving back? Volunteering isn’t only about the impact that you make in the lives of those less fortunate and in one’s community; it also teaches you a lot about who you are and helps you improve certain life skills. You may discover that you’ve become more patient, open-minded, less judgmental, and more compassionate. I’m not talking about volunteering so you can toss that board membership title on your LinkedIn Profile – this isn’t Quid Pro Quo – this is just giving for the sake of giving.
My family and I just returned from a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. While I possess a fairly extensive record of international travel, this was my first trip to Southeast Asia. Each trip to a foreign country possesses its own remarkable aspects but the idea of visiting countries as “foreign” as Vietnam and Cambodia came with both excitement, as well as trepidation. Let me just start by saying, it was fantastic! The people, the culture, the history, the food, all of it.
I’m just going to come right out and say it: I think the younger generations get it. I know, I know there have been countless articles written about the generation divide, the Boomers versus Millennial debates, but I’m going to add one more to the mix. I’m not going to bash the idealism of the younger crowd, in fact, I embrace it and I encourage you to open your mind and put yourself in their shoes for a bit.