Why Age Diversity is a good idea for your Team

People over the age of 45 are keen to work - they are either already employed and looking for future opportunities, or not working currently and looking to join a team, some want full-time work and others part-time.  The number of people in this sector of the population is growing.  This means that unlike in years gone by, workplace teams will become more age diverse in the future. This can mean many things, but most importantly, it means that another dimension can be added to the dynamics of your company.

 

There are many reasons why older worker can struggle to secure roles.  You don't have to look far in the media to find stories about people being passed over because of age. The Panel on Radio NZ talked about this recently.  People need or want to work longer and with all their experience there's no reason why they shouldn't be able to. There are many ways that employers can encourage and attract older, experienced and skilled workers - and that’s by making them feel welcome.  After all, older workers have a huge amount to offer. 

 

7 reasons why Age Diversity could be a benefit for your Team

Older workers are more experienced

The first and most obvious benefit is that people who have worked for longer have more experience. Technology may have changed how people do their jobs, but people over the age of 45 have evolved with these changes and bring a unique perspective to a company - they were working before the internet and social media.

This perspective can be more than just what they can bring to the workplace. Experienced workers are more likely to be detail-oriented, meticulous and focused in their work, and are better personal communicators.  As an aside, there was a very good article in the New Zealand Herald recently - Do Millenials really lack workplace skills? that talked about a generation that is glued to screens are incapable of small talk, critical thinking and problem-solving - it was quite a polarising discussion.  

 

They’ve worked in different industries

Older workers are more likely to have had experience in different fields of work.  While this may be a concern for some employers since the skillset of the worker may not be completely dedicated to their current job from the beginning of their working years, having an older employee with different areas of work experience could be quite useful.

 

To some degree, jobs can be a little intertwined when it comes to the work at hand - that’s just the nature of the workplace today. 

 

They’re more resilient

Workers over the age of 45 have one distinct thing in common with regard to their working experience: they began working before the age of the internet. While the internet has made work a lot more efficient, it has also made the landscape of working more prone to change. These changes can often upset or startle younger workers, or cause disruptions in the working environment that they can’t easily adjust to. Alternatively, not all business plans follow the mindset that they can easily adjust whenever needed. Older workers help with these situations by being a role model of resiliency to changes inside or out of the company, making them a valuable resource to have and integrate into your business teams.

 

Older workers are often mentors

Mentoring is also an important part of business operations.  This doesn't always mean a formal mentoring process but having someone who is more experienced in a team can be a support and guide. There is great value in this for the whole company.  Older workers are more likely to have been a mentor to others in a previous role.  They will have the ability to advise and help younger employees with valuable lessons that can make their work more efficient while helping them reach their best performance as an employee.

 

For more about how older workers can be mentors, you can check our previous blog on mentoring.

 

Have dealt with different kinds of people

Interpersonal communication is an essential office skill. If an employee has mastered this skill, it’s almost a guarantee that the person will fit in well with whatever business they decide to enter into. Being able to communicate well with different kinds of people is useful for a variety of reasons. Some people may be a little challenging to work with. Others might need some stronger supervision. 

 

Older workers have an advantage when it comes to dealing with these kinds of people, especially when in a leadership role. More than that, it can also tie into their ability to pass on this skill to their teammates as well. Simply put, having someone who can talk with both clients and team members in a way that's engaging and effective is an asset to any company.

 

More mature with their work ethic

A large part of how an office becomes more productive and efficient is how the employees view their work. Jobs that require a large degree of exercising creativity or manufacturing require a well-developed work ethic for the best possible result from their work. A proper work ethic is something that workers over the age of 45 will know very well.  Jobs in the last few decades have been far more structured with set start and finish times.  Gig working and flexible hours are quite a modern concept and while there are plenty of benefits, there are downsides too.  

 

Having a strong sense of pride in a job well done is part of this work ethic, and while younger workers will have this too, people over the age of 45 will have a different sense of it.  Passing this on to co-workers is a valuable asset to any team.

 

Integrated with a wide network

It's obvious but older workers have been around longer, and therefore have more connections and networks.  There's strength in this.  Older workers have had more opportunities, colleagues and time to strengthen their own networks, making them invaluable to any organisation. While certainly there is no guarantee that their co-workers can inherit their same networks; their extended influence within their own circles and the industry they work in can certainly help them become one of your best employees.

 

Last word on older workers

There are plenty of misconceptions that surround older workers. While you cannot merely discount these, the fact is that there is very little evidence to show there is any disadvantage to employing someone who is over 55 years old or more.  More often than not, older workers are a great source of experience, manpower, and value to any organisation.

The key here is to not think of older workers as being bound by their age - instead, their age allows them to work just as well as (or perhaps even better than) their younger counterparts. Even discounting their experience, their ability to pass on what they’ve learned throughout the years is what gives older workers the real value in business.

 

On the flip side, people over the age of 55 have the opportunity to start to look into what else they can provide a company aside from just doing the defined tasks.  They need to leverage their age as an advantage - because while time can be seen as something that may stop them from getting the job done, more often than not, it’s the key to getting it done well.

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