With 25% of the workforce forecast to be over age 50 by 2024, I’ve been wondering about how demographics will change the workforce and how companies will address it. Although some U.S. companies include “age” in their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, it’s often not a priority for companies to focus on an age diverse team. In fact, according to PwC research, only 8% of companies in the United States include age as a criterion for their DE&I strategy. They include companies such as Adobe, Mercedes, SAP, and Accenture. We talked about the benefits of an age diverse workforce here.
On our happy hour podcast last week, a few people asked me to send them a list of “age friendly” companies. While I love that companies describe themselves as being “age friendly”, I’m not quite sure what that means. Do they measure the number of people hired over the age of 50? Are they intentional about hiring older workers because of the business benefits? When I spoke to an HR expert recently, he said that companies are focusing on (and measuring) a few areas that align with their diversity equity and inclusion initiatives. Typically (not always) this means they are measuring the number of women and people of color they hire. And this is great but it still doesn’t address the age factor. Another expert said that “age friendly” means they won’t eliminate a person’s CV just because of their age. Others said many companies are intentional about hiring older candidates because they know the benefits of having an age diverse team. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Here’s an expanded list of companies we’ve compiled over the last year that are age friendly. Once interviewing begins, it will become more transparent how companies address and attract workers of all ages.
Age friendly attributes:
- Interview people with experience and don’t use phrases such as “over qualified”.
- Flexibility is encouraged because they value an employee’s autonomy and engagement.
- Allow time for caretaking responsibilities such as for an elderly parent.
- Offer continuing education opportunities for all ages within the workplace.
“Returnships” are full time paid positions for adults who have been out of the workforce for at least a couple of years. They can last three to twelve months. Since there aren’t many companies that offer a leave of absence for caretaking responsibilities, many people need to leave the workforce entirely in order to care for a loved one. Returnships offer a way to get re-hired as a full-time employee after the returnship has ended. These programs are on the rise because companies have consulted with future of work experts and they realize they need to be more deliberate about hiring and retaining older employees. Another big reason: As the nation's population becomes more diverse, companies are looking for new ways to create a more inclusive workforce in terms of gender, age, ethnic and social background, and job experiences. Some of them have amazing reputations and others do not, so research the company and ask previous “returners” about their experience at the company. Here’s a list of Return to Work Programs Around the US.
Fear of dying is human. Fear of aging is cultural.
- Ashton Applewhite
Impending Labor Shortage
Before the pandemic, there was a huge labor shortage. Experts such as Andrew Scott, author and Economics Professor at Oxford University, have predicted that although it’s a tight job market now, there will be another labor shortage in the next 3-5 years.
It’s the companies that embrace this demographic shift and hire and train older workers that will be more prepared and will have a higher likelihood of outperforming their competition.
If you know of any “age friendly” lists, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and marketing professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide the tools and community to support other mid-career professionals to maximize their mid-career momentum. In addition to her work with illume hire, Emily is part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on age diversity in the workplace