It is the balance of financial, intellectual, material and human resources that creates the platform for business’s success and competitiveness. Companies often overlook age diversity at work, trying to focus on employees under 35 years old. However, is this really the right way of business development? Generations of older people continue to study and work, changing perceptions of retirement age. Such seasoned employees are often far superior to their younger counterparts and can be characterized by emotional stability, the ability to solve complex problems, scrupulousness, as well as extensive and comprehensive work experience. A company that leverages benefits that employees of different ages offer will always be better equipped to further its advancement in business.
Ageism at Work
Ageism (discrimination on the basis of age) is a concept not nominal, but real and widespread, especially in the professional environment. Scientists from around the world have long been researching this issue and finding positive trends that emerge lately. One of the largest studies of the dynamics of cognitive abilities was published in 2015 by the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It showed that different abilities have their age peaks.
- The speed of information processing increases to 19 years, and then begins to decline.
- Short-term memory deteriorates after 35.
- The ability to assess the emotional state of other people reaches a maximum of 40-50 years.
- A person's vocabulary increases until the age of 70, provided that the person leads an intellectually rich life.
Evidently, hiring mature workers can offer many benefits, but unfortunately not all modern company leaders see it that way. There is a concept that specialists aged 40+ can be subordinated only to a more mature leader, and that such specialists are motivated only by tasks that match their extensive work experience. Therefore, when a mature adequate candidate comes for an interview with a young manager under 30, they often do not match the values and do not enter into employment.
Value of a Seasoned ProcessionalThere are three main reasons for rejecting 40+ year old workers:
- Desired salary level
- insufficient level of education
However, a tendency to only hire younger employees is not very well grounded in the facts. Scientific writer Barbara Strauch in the book "The Secret Life of the Adult Brain" found that the highest intellectual development of the brain occurs in the age range of 40-50 years. Simply put, we really get wiser with age. Interestingly, a lot of scientific research claims that older people are not only not inferior in cognitive abilities to the younger generation, but are also more optimistic. The Seattle Longitudinal Study reports that middle-aged people perform better on four of the six cognitive tests.
Strong Suites of a Younger Worker
Sure, hiring the young specialist has many advantages. Young people can show adaptive abilities, and thus easily "merge" with the organizational culture of the company. Such employees are creative, have a lot of energy, desire to learn something new, and develop. As young people often combine work and studying, they want to hire someone to write an essay for them in order to be at work and earn money. They are not against business trips and training.Young workers named the following reasons for failure at getting work:
- Insufficient level of education
- inappropriate experience
- desired salary level
Each generation has its own vision of work and career. Combining requirements is one of the challenges for many companies. For example, Gen Z workers seek entrepreneurial opportunities and expect to move up the career ladder fast. Generation X is more flexible and prefers to have a balance between work and personal life. Millennials (Generation Y) want to see the purpose and meaning of their work, and value a strong work ethic.
The Best of Both Worlds for an Effective Workforce
Many modern employers are more mindful of hiring with more age diversity and widening the scope when researching new job candidates that help their business grow. Now, there are cross-functional positions when two or more professions are mixed, and hard skills recede, bringing soft skills to the forefront. A study by the OECD's Skills for Social Progress, an international economic organization in developed countries, emphasizes the need to master soft skills in order to succeed in today's world. The authors call soft skill a trend that can reveal patterns in complex processes and influence the formation of personnel policy in countries. The basic soft skills that a professional in any field should possess are as follows:
The ability to negotiate and listen, brainstorm, manage the relationship with the employer;
public speaking (ability to convey information, diction, willingness to receive feedback and criticism);
- team management, conflict resolution;
- time management (perform each task on time and not feel overwhelmed);
- punctuality, intrinsic motivation;
- leadership (decision-making);
- emotion management, patience, adaptability.
Here are the traits of a modern, age-inclusive workforce that make it strong and ready for any future challenges:Acquaintance with the concept of human rights and the principles of social justice, gender equality;
- Skills of critical thinking and analysis;
- Ability to recognize and counteract injustice and prejudice;
- Prognostic thinking on the basis of different points of view on a certain situation;
- Teamwork and partnership to achieve a common goal; the ability to self-regulate their emotional state;
- Confidence, self-esteem, and respect for others.
Such an age diversity in the workforce is only possible if it consists of different-aged, globally-sourced, open-minded individuals. This is why employers that want to ensure their businesses ability to withstand the test of time and enrich the corporate pool of skills and overall value of their team must hire people of different ages and backgrounds.
Pros of Multi-Age Workforce
Modern companies should make age diversity at work one of the cornerstones of their hiring practice if they want to get an advantage over their competitors. The key point is the recognition and elimination of age differences within the corporate culture, and the promotion of ideas about the value of employees of different ages. In particular, middle managers need to adapt to the needs and expectations of different generations. It is important not only to create teams that bring together people of different ages, but also start mentoring programs. This helps to deepen the knowledge of how employees of different ages in the workplace differ, which, in turn, makes it possible to assess the benefits that the company receives from the fact that it employs representatives of different generations.
This guest blog was written by Nicole Garrison and may not be copied or published without PeopleGuru's express written consent.