Managing Older Workers
September 9, 2010 at 1:33 am #110413
Was listening to one of my favorite podcasts today “Harvard Business Review Ideacast” and there was a great report on “Managing Older Workers.”Basically, they interviewed a Wharton professor who’d recently done some research on older workers.They started with the “myth of the older worker”-Older workers cost more on health care. Actually not as highest costs are for those in 30s/40s with children on family plans.-Older workers cost more. Basically found people weren’t paid by age but simply if they had experience with a similar job before.-Said there is actually more discrimination based on age than gender or race.-Poor performers. Older workers actual perform better in all cases except in situations that are extremely fast-moving and innovative.Next, they had a section on how to manage someone older than you.They found that-Younger bosses need to ask older workers for more input on situations
-But at same time, younger bosses needed to act like a boss and manage appropriately.Also they found that the biggest impediment to hiring older workers is management feeling uncomfortable about younger people managing older people.Interesting and I think an issue that is going to come up more in the next few years.
September 9, 2010 at 3:32 am #110429
Even more important is to keep the older workers one already has. Loss of that accumulated knowledge is more costly than all the above. (In my opinion:>)
September 9, 2010 at 11:21 am #110427
Perhaps this also would be a great discussion under “Knowledge Management”! Older workers who have kept up with their professions (i.e., and haven’t over-stayed their worth) are valuable to organizations as mentors, as purveyors of institutional knowledge, and as troubleshooters for the unique issues that arise in every workplace. Older workers are far more reliable that portrayed … in most cases, they’re at work because they want to be there and that translates! I hire the well-experienced just as often as I hire the great-potential. A workplace needs both! They’re like Yin and Yang … can’t have one without the other.
September 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm #110425
Very interesting Steve. And, yes, it is going to be an issue for the next several years. I think that younger bosses don’t necessarily have to treat their older workers differently. The two suggestions you shared — asking for employee input and managing appropriately are what good supervisors do regardless of their or their employees’ ages. Let’s get beyond the myths of older workers, and not get caught up on age.
September 9, 2010 at 2:02 pm #110423
Just saw this – GovExec has article on the same concept.
Dan – Good point. Most of the tips are just good management.
Some can be age specific which I didn’t add
-Older workers usually care less about promotion opportunity since they are looking more towards retirement and maximizing where they are
They also said older workers care more about mission than money. Which is funny because that reminds me of what most people say about Gen Y (me included)
September 9, 2010 at 2:07 pm #110421
It’s amazing how GenY desires compare to us “older folks”. We are the first generation kids of Depression Era survivors. We too want to leave this place better than we found it. We still have the ideals we got from our parents… the WWI & WWII generations. When it comes right down to it, a diverse workplace IS about similarities.
September 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm #110419
As an older 50-something worker who plans to work at LEAST another 10 years, I do still feel I have alot to offer. I Tweet, I text, I Facebook, I Unix, I VM, I continue to take classes to keep my skills up to date. I have a boss who is 22 years younger than I am and we get along great. He frequently uses me a sounding board and seems to value my opinion. In return I respect his authority in meetings and in decisions he makes for our group (cyber security). Before I came into cyber security I was an IT manager for many years. It was always so much easier for me to just do the work than to try to “mentor” my younger employees. The result was extreme burnout from being on call 24X7. So the generations can get along with a little bit of give and take on both sides. It does not have to be confrontational.
September 9, 2010 at 10:12 pm #110417
September 10, 2010 at 11:55 am #110415
That’s a great story. Keep up the great work.
24X7 call is not healthy on the mind and body. I’ve had a number of friends do that in IT and it can only last so long
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