Thursday, June 28, 2018

As our workforce ages, age discrimination is only going to worsen

Happy Golden Birthday, Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

On June 13, 2018, the ADEA turned 50.

To commemorate this milestone, the EEOC just released a report entitled The State of Older Workers and Age Discrimination 50 Years After the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The report concludes that "age discrimination remains too common and too accepted" as employers continue to hold "unfounded and outdated assumptions about age and ability" about older workers.

Indeed, our workforce is aging.
  • Over the past 25 years, the share of workers age 55+ doubled.
  • Over the next six years, the oldest segment of the workforce (age 65+) is projected to increase faster than any other.
  • By 2050, employees age 65+ are expected in increase by 75 percent, while workers under the age of 54 are only expected to grow by 2 percent.

Additionally, people are working longer than ever before:
This generation of older workers is generally healthier and has longer life expectancy than previous generations. In addition, eligibility for full Social Security benefits starts at later ages and the demise of traditional pension benefits provided by employers has shifted greater responsibility to individuals for their retirement income.…

The Great Recession of 2007-2009 … forced many older workers to revise their retirement plans and to work longer to recoup drained retirement accounts and lost savings.… Prior to 2009, most Americans planned to retire before age 65. Since then, most say they will retire after age 65.… 

In addition, the concept of "retirement" has changed markedly with the Baby Boom generation. Retirement traditionally meant the end of paid employment. Today, retirement can also mean continued employment in another role, job or career.

What does all of this mean? That are more older workers are working, and working longer, age discrimination will continue to be a worsening problem. As a result, the EEOC offers employers some strategies to avoid age discrimination, increase age diversity in the workplace, and value a multi-generational workforce.
  1. Increase age diversity: Examples include adding "age" to already existing diversity and inclusion programs, developing mixed-age work teams, and assessing an organization's culture, practices, and policies to reveal outdated assumptions about older workers.

  2. Deploy different recruiting and hiring strategies: Examples include hiring older workers can  fill the lack of trained or experienced workers for higher-skilled jobs, seeking workers of all ages and not limiting qualifications based on age or years of experience, and training recruiters and interviewers to avoid ageist assumptions and perceptions.

  3. Develop effective retention strategies: Examples include career counseling, training and development opportunities, mixed-age and reverse-age mentoring, and flexible work options for better work/life balance. 

What are you doing to make your workplace more open for older workers? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

* Photo by GidonPico via Pixabay