In today's youth-oriented culture, many workers discover that it becomes more difficult to find a job as they grow older. In many cases, this is the result of illegal age discrimination by employers, which is prohibited under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975. Besides the fact that it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of age, however, there are a number of other reasons that it can be beneficial for companies to hire older workers.
Maturity and experience
Perhaps the most obvious advantage that many older workers have over their younger counterparts is their maturity and breadth of experience - in life as well as in the workplace. Because important skills like problem-solving and interpersonal communication continue to develop over time, older workers may be more equipped to deal with challenging situations effectively and levelheadedly.
In addition, more experienced workers may be more likely to spot inefficiencies and make suggestions about how to improve them. According to entrepreneur.com, more than one million hours of productivity are lost each year as a result of disorganization in the workplace, which means that these suggestions from older workers could have a real impact on a company's bottom line. Not only that, but with the enhanced communication skills that often result from their many years of working and interacting with others, older workers may be more adept at communicating their ideas diplomatically in a way that is sensitive to workplace politics.
Reduced costs and lower turnover
Many employers assume that hiring older workers will increase costs for things like health care and sick days, but this is not necessarily the case. In fact, one employer interviewed by MSN Money said that older workers tend to take fewer sick days and, because many are eligible for Medicare, the often choose not to receive employer-provided health care.
The same employer, which employs 49 people, half of whom are over age 73, also told MSN that turnaround tends to be much lower among older workers. While younger workers come and go, they said, older employees tend to provide many years of loyal service. According to the company's operations manager, they tend to lose just one older employer each year, at most. What's more, because older workers frequently have more flexible schedules, they are often more willing to fill shifts that are less desirable to younger workers with busy schedules.
Ageism is against the law
Federal law protects workers age 40 and older from discrimination by employers on the basis of age. This means that it is illegal for companies to discriminate against older workers or job applicants in decisions about hiring, firing, layoffs, promotions, compensation, benefits, training opportunities or job assignments. It is also against the law to retaliate against anyone who speaks out against an employer's illegal age discrimination, for instance by firing or demoting that individual.
People who are affected by potential age discrimination in the workplace should speak with a knowledgeable employment lawyer to learn more about their rights and discuss the possibility of filing a discrimination claim.