Last week I read an article from the Los Angeles Times that described how some employers are listing “digital native” as a requirement for employment. Quoting from the Times, “The term, many say, is a ‘code word’ for young workers who have grown up with technology and will be able to use new systems with ease.”
Despite the growing body of research that shows older/experienced workers embrace technology, and often exceeds their younger counterparts in productivity and problem solving, the evidence also shows that bias about age play a big part in hiring and retention.
Many older adults, who spent their careers in offices in the late 80’s and early 90’s, most likely remember when computers, and later the internet, revolutionized the workplace. Word processing, research, data base management, spreadsheets, visual presentations were all required functions before the computer; but the new technology and the accompanying software made the work easier, faster and allowed for far more creativity. Not to mention that many of these employees had to learn how to operate this technology using DOS commands. If anything, I find today’s office systems easier to use and create with than the days of archaic CRT monitors and floppy disks.
Then there are the benefits mature workers over 45 bring to the table namely perspective gained from experience. The older worker has proven to be quite adaptable, as well as a solid and trusted mentor for their younger counterparts. With that said, the more seasoned employee can also learn from his or her younger counterparts. It’s a win-win really; both groups benefit and harmoniously build a cohesive ‘mixed’ work environment.
When I meet with the heads of businesses and large corporations, they tend to see the benefits of having an age-diverse workplace. Unfortunately, this attitude does not always transfer down to the hiring managers and department heads. The challenge is how do we address the myths associated with age-related stereotypes?
Operation A.B.L.E. has pioneered a remedy to that very challenge since 1982. And now 35 years into our mission, we’re proud to announce some heavy hitting partnerships in this quest. Operation A.B.L.E. along with the City of Boston’s Age-Friendly City program will work to educate employers and promote the benefits of an age-diverse workplace.
The Age-Friendly Boston program was instituted in the U.S. and globally by AARP and the World Health Organization to encourage city leaders and planners to better accommodate the population as it ages.
Operation A.B.L.E. is introducing The Age-Friendly Advantage into this mix in an effort to bring employers and the community up to speed about the reality verses the stereotype of mature workers. In the next few weeks, I will be reaching out to employers to join with us to adopt The Age-Friendly Advantage.
The days of mandatory retirement seem to be over. More citizens either choose, or need, to work beyond age 65. This creates social, economic and financial issues that will take a community to address. In the coming weeks, we will be working with employers/partners to roll out the Age-Friendly Advantage program designed to engage and educate employers, lawmakers and community leaders to a need that is not going away.