You know you are old when...

I am not sure I have a way to finish that sentence. 

What I do know is that ageism is alive and well. Perhaps even in your organization. But, at what cost?

I never figured I would be excluded from anything because I was 'mature' or over 50. Yet, I see it happening all of the time and have experienced it myself. I have often thought that with age, comes opportunities. The thought of exclusion or disadvantage never occurred to me; that is until recently.

This is not a rant. This is a concern.

Adults today are living longer and working well into their 60's. Yet, many are denied promotions or meaningful jobs because of their age. From an HR perspective, no-one in their right mind would tell an applicant they are too old. They'd never say they didn't get a promotion because of their age or their nearness to retirement. The truth is... we all know people that have had interviews and were not offered promotions or positions even though they were the best person for the job. There is something wrong with this in a world where diversity is honoured and discrimination is against the law. 

I am lucky in that I own the company where I work. My age is not a hindrance nor is anyone else's at ETL. We hire people of all ages because we appreciate that there is value in the young, middle aged and mature workers. In the work we do to help people find jobs - either through our outplacement for clients, or recruiting, we see that anyone over 50 is rarely considered - possibly out of fear of potential retirement in the near future. 

What I find funny in this is that young people are staying on average 3-5 years with employers and then moving on with the hopes of gaining experience and building their careers. Someone in their 50's is looking to find steady work, expecting to stay 10 years plus and will not spend hours each year looking for something better or different. Based on this... loyalty, productivity and longer tenure is almost guaranteed in a mature hire. Yet, we overlook them. 

Fast food restaurants and big box stores are benefiting greatly from the mature population that still wants to work, but cannot find a place in their chosen fields because of their age. Are other businesses losing out by not taking advantage of close to retirement boomers? I think so.

What are your thoughts? What have your experiences been with your mature workers and is ageism as real a problem as it appears to us?

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Pat DeMers, President, Excel Thru Learning