Change the Way you View Age

A straw poll reveals a shocking number of people in their 50’s and early 60’s who are out of a job.

These are healthy, capable men and women who used to hold senior positions in some of the best known organizations in the world.

HR practitioners, many in their first job since they left school, favor younger candidates.

The usual retort as to why older workers are shunned is the oft-used “They cost a lot more” or “They bring along all kinds of baggage” or “They work a lot slower.”

One man was told that for his salary the firm could hire three Indians instead.

As executives chalk up years of service, more often than not, they accumulate priceless experience. These people should be treasured, not shunned.

However there are always two sides to an equation.

To be fair, many executives have themselves to blame for the predicament they are in.

If you swagger around like a big bully always boasting about your past glories and reminiscing about the “good old days” you are not going to endear anyone to you.

If your smart-alecky attitude becomes a pain, why should anyone want to work with you?

HR has choices. There is always a steady stream of young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed aspirants who will work at twice the pace, with twice the output, at half the price.

They come equipped with modern day skills and scoff at the fuddy-duddies who mope around lamenting about the evils of Facebook and how troublesome it is to have to create PowerPoint charts.

Many of these oldies have also arrived at their present quandary because they have simply de-railed.

There is no excuse for shoddy work, no matter what your age. There is also no excuse for avoiding hard work, no matter what your age.

Taking the company for a ride, approving unnecessary travels for yourself, submitting dubious expense claims, refusing to attend upgrading courses, being abrasive, throwing temper tantrums, getting involved in politicking and backstabbing, etc and assuming that people will close one eye because of your “seniority” – these are all ways and means to dig a career grave for yourself.

As much as I pity those who are in their 50’s or early 60’s and out of a job, I also question how much of their own behavior and attitude have led them to where they are now.

Meantime, the younger members of the workforce, especially those in HR, should subtly nudge and mentor those about to de-rail and see value in the years of experience garnered by those who have been there, done that.

When otherwise capable men and women in their 50’s or 60’s are forced to accept lower salaries by switching trade – such as someone I know who became a taxi-driver after being a VP of an insurance company – it is a sad situation.

How a society treats its older people says a lot about the character of the society.

It also provides a disturbing insight and indication as to where this society is heading to in the future.