The Great Recession is pushing older workers to postpone retirement, but will employers accommodate them?
Demographics dictate that the workforce will age in the years ahead. By 2016, one-third of the U.S. workforce will be age 50 or older, compared with 28 percent in 2007, according to
But the current brutal jobs climate raises questions about the future prospects of older workers. The jobless rate for adults age 55 to 64 has more than doubled since
Even in a tough economy, older workers are valued in some industries. Technology-oriented companies that depend on experienced scientists and engineers are worried about brain drain as the baby boomer generation retires. Many are scrambling to implement retention programs aimed at keeping these high-value knowledge workers on the job as long as possible. Some offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate the changing lifestyle needs of older employees.
Companies say older workers are among their most productive, and that this offsets their higher compensation and benefit expenses. One study several years ago for
At the same time, there's strong evidence of age discrimination by employers on the hiring and firing side. As I noted last month, age discrimination claims filed with the
Against that backdrop, it's instructive to see employers compete for the honor of being age-friendly.
One lesson I draw from the winners' list is that best employment practices for older workers are being implemented in a somewhat narrow range of economic sectors. This year, 40 percent of the top 50 come from education, government and the non-profit sector. The financial service sector was another big winner, grabbing 20 percent of the age-friendly awards.
Some of the names popping up at the top of the list include
What's the best way to identify prospective employers that are age-friendly?
--Recruiting process. Is an employer actively reaching out to older workers?
--Marketing signals. Does the employer portray older workers in its marketing and advertising materials?
--Training opportunities. Does the employer provide opportunities for continuing learning and retraining on the job?
--Benefits. Does the employer offer benefits like eldercare, and continuing education outside the workplace?
--Advancement. Is there a clear track record at the company of advancement for older workers?
Beyond those factors, she says employer attitudes toward older workers vary greatly by industry, but adds that most are simply looking for the best skills and performance at the best price.
"It's easy to get preoccupied with age, but there really are several realities co-existing at the same time. Can you do the job? Will you be my biggest return on investment among the candidates I'm considering? Do you understand the company's core values and goals for the short and long term? How can you help the company reach those goals?"
- 10 Best Places for Tech Jobs
- When Age Bias Hinders the Job Hunt
- Weighing an Early-Retirement Offer
- The Best Employers for Older Workers
- Sometimes a Little Paranoia Is Good
- Freelance Job Bidding Sites: Useful or Not
- Saving Yourself When Out of Work, Out of Luck
- 12 Things to Know About Job Interviews
- The Ethics of Reality in the Workplace
- Finding Your Voice Without Losing Your Job
- The Reality of Social Networking
- Repair Plan for Workplace Mistakes
- Is Career Difficulty Sign of Wrong Path
(c) 2009 Mark Miller