Connect with us


Embrace age diversity for a knowledgeable, innovative workforce



Nancy Hammervik is the chief solutions officer for CompTIA, the leading non-profit trade association for the global technology industry and workforce. 

In today’s competitive business landscape, companies are constantly striving to attract and retain top talent, especially in highly specialized and hard-to-fill positions. Yet in their search, employers often overlook a segment of the workforce that holds immense potential as an asset — older, seasoned workers.

The word “older” is the trigger but older translates to experienced — which is what hiring managers want. With their wealth of institutional knowledge and experience, these individuals play a pivotal role in collaborating with younger workers, enabling a seamless connection between the old and new. 

Age discrimination continues to cast a shadow over the workplace, hindering the full potential of older workers.

Nancy Hammervik

Chief Solutions Officer, CompTIA

It is crucial to recognize the profound value that age diversity brings to a workforce, particularly in a business setting. Older workers possess a deep understanding of how existing systems and practices intertwine with emerging technologies and methodologies. By bridging the gap between traditional and innovative approaches, they provide invaluable insights into how different components interact, ensuring a holistic perspective on problem-solving and decision-making. 

Research underscores the eagerness of older workers to remain actively engaged in their careers. A study conducted by Voya Financial revealed that many individuals over the age of 50, who had initially retired, subsequently rejoined the workforce, earning them the moniker “employment extenders.” This phenomenon, often referred to as the “great unretiring,” has witnessed segments of workers returning to work following a temporary retirement induced by the pandemic. The desire to contribute, grow and make a meaningful impact propels these individuals to continue their professional journeys.

However, age discrimination continues to cast a shadow over the workplace, hindering the full potential of older workers. A survey conducted by AARP exposed a disconcerting reality: 78% of workers aged 50 or older reported experiencing or witnessing age discrimination. This discrimination manifests in many ways, from overt stereotypes suggesting older workers are less adept with technology to more subtle forms of unconscious bias, such as assuming a lack of interest in acquiring new skills.

Age bias is especially prevalent in the tech workforce with demographic data confirming a younger-skewed workforce compared to the broader employment landscape in the United States. While multiple factors contribute to age distribution across various occupations, the data suggests employers, managers and even older workers themselves may inadvertently act against their own interests.

Conversely, there exists a bias that assumes young cohorts, often referred to as “digital natives,” possess innate expertise in workplace technologies. However, it is important to recognize that generational differences will always be part of workplace discourse. Astute organizations transcend labels and biases, focusing instead on recruiting, retaining and developing the most exceptional teams possible.

The World Economic Forum notes that older workers, much like employees from other generations, seek job security, work-life balance, a sense of belonging and the opportunity for “unretirement” — the desire to continue working.

Employers that harness the unique benefits this cohort offers can find exceptional talent and create a more robust and diverse workforce. Embracing age diversity in the workplace unlocks a treasure trove of institutional knowledge, experience and insights. By fostering collaboration between older and younger workers, companies can create a harmonious blend of traditional wisdom and innovative thinking. This inclusive approach enriches the workforce and cultivates a vibrant, dynamic environment where individuals of all ages can thrive.

Read the full article here