Sometimes it can be great to be a senior employee at a company, with coworkers looking up to an individual as a result of their decades of experience and asking for that expertise to be shared on projects. On the other hand, in an era of on-the-job age discrimination, seniority can have its downsides as well. Here are a few pointers for older people in the workplace to keep in mind.
• It’s important to keep up with technology: As noted by the Huffington Post, workers need to be able to do it all in today’s workforce, and technology changes things rapidly. One day, someone is filing an expense report via snail mail; the next day they are using an online form; and the next, there’s an app for that involving shooting a photo of the lunch bill via phone. The point is, experience alone won’t carry the day.
• Forging constructive relationships is a top priority: In a survey conducted by The Sloan Center for Aging & Work, respondents age 50 and older at large companies said the most important element for a quality job wasn’t pay and benefits (which ranked third) but actually “promotion of constructive relationships in the workplace.” Having support from supervisors and coworkers is utterly crucial for satisfaction.
• Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment: This includes during the processes of hiring, promotions, raises and layoffs. As noted by the AARP, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against workers age 40 and up. The ADEA applies to employers that have at least 20 employees; some states have stronger protections.
• Speak everyone’s language: Just as someone would speak French in France, adapt communication styles to the person or group being addressed in a manner that suits them, suggests Women for Hire. Communication is one of the biggest problems in an intergenerational workplace. Older workers have a longer attention span and are often more patient, which can strike younger workers as being slow. Be sensitive about slang.
• Use high productivity to good advantage: A major international study, the COGITO Study, found that 65-to-80-year-old workers’ performance was actually less variable from day to day than that of a younger group; older adults also exhibited an ability to learn more, remember more and take less time to learn than younger workers. Older adults’ cognitive performance was also found to be more consistent over time than that of younger workers.
These are just some of the tips that older workers can harness to their advantage—in order to navigate the choppy waters of an employment environment that can sometimes seem stacked against them.
© 2019 Silver Disobedience Inc.