The Cure for the Great Resignation: Hiring Older Workers
A truly fascinating book, just published by psychology professor Becca Levy of Yale University shatters many of the basic – and completely wrong – assumptions that we’ve been told have been the gospel of aging for as long as most of us can remember.
“Breaking the age code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long And Well You Live,” provides answers to difficult questions facing both employers and America’s aging population itself.
Recently, I spoke with Dr. Levy about the myths of aging – how age affects what we are able to do. If you thought that just turning the pages of a calendar meant a decline in mental and intellectual health and “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, then come here for a dog biscuit, for today’s story will dispel that belief.
Because, as his book states, “Thinking for Ourselves old is a self-fulfilling and dangerous prophecy.
Her mission is to convince an aging population to believe in her and to realize that candles on a cake have no connection with reality, for the person blowing them out or for their employer.
I asked him to list several of the most common myths about aging and their consequences for our society, the business world, and each of us when we wake up one day with a wrinkle that didn’t exist before.
Myth #1: Your older workers aren’t as effective at work. Reduce their job responsibilities.
Studies show: Anecdotally and decades of research have shown that older workers take fewer sick days and reflect a strong work ethic that rubs off on younger colleagues. From their work experience – and life lessons – they often find effective shortcuts to get things done faster.
Moreover, for employers who give in to such bias, it is an invitation to a lawsuit for age discrimination.
Myth #2: Older workers don’t have the ability to be creative.
Studies show: Creativity often increases later in life. Many artists, including Matisse, are credited with producing their most innovative work in old age. Many writers will admit that their skills and artistry improve with age. The average age of 60 minutes journalists was 71 years old in the days of Mike Wallace and Andy Rooney, and Lesley Stahl is still busy covering stories at 80!
Successful startups are more likely to be led by entrepreneurs over 50 than under 30. Certain skills combined with creativity allow us, as we age, to better solve problems at work.
Having resolved conflicts throughout a lifetime allows specific neurons to remain active in making connections and better responding to new conflict situations that arise in each organization. Just getting older and successfully managing real-world conflict is a huge boon for employers.
Myth #3: Older people in general do not contribute to society and are selfish. At work, they do not help their colleagues and think only of themselves.
Studies show: Older workers seek close, positive and productive relationships with their colleagues. After a lifetime in a particular field, they are better able to see the potholes that an employer must avoid.
Altruistic values were found to increase significantly, while selfish behaviors were rare. In general, older people engage in legacy thinking, wanting to help create a better world for their families, employers, friends, and a genuine desire to benefit society.
Myth #4: Health is determined entirely by genetics and biology, and attitude plays no role.
Studies show: You can just shorten your own lifespan with this thought! Studies show that only 25% of longevity is genetically determined. The remaining 75% are due to the influence of the environment, psychological factors, personal beliefs and especially those concerning aging.
Culture in the form of beliefs about age has a powerful influence on the health of older people. Having positive beliefs about age – including thinking you’re knowledgeable at what you’re talking about, creative, and a good source of advice for family and friends – will greatly reduce the influence of propaganda that older people lose these abilities. Positive beliefs have a proven impact on cardiovascular health, mental and psychological well-being.
Myth #5: There is little to be gained by hiring or training older employees in high tech, because you will be faced with the frustration of “Old dog new tricks”.
Studies show: The brain, instead of reaching a maximum learning capacity around the age of 25 – the dogma of years ago – is in fact an organ capable of acquiring new skills at any age. Don’t let wrong thinking rob you of a real asset to your business.
Myth #6: Age doesn’t need to be included in diversity training programs.
Studies show: Not including age in your diversity strategy will be seen as validation that older workers are worth less than younger workers. Surveys of employers in 78 countries showed that only 8% included age in diversity, equity and inclusion policies. Think what they lost!
Concluding our interview, Dr. Levy wants employers – from the local mom and pop market to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies – to understand the reality facing America’s aging population.
“Not everyone wants to retire or will be financially able to. We know from decades of experience that an active mind and body keeps us healthy. Reinforcing positive beliefs about age gives us a longer, more productive, and happier life.
I can’t think of a better gift for that CEO or spouse who looks in the mirror and sees their mom or dad, wondering what my life will be like as I get older? What can I do now to influence how I will be as these calendar pages go by so quickly?
Breaking the age code will give you the answer.
Lawyer at the bar, author of “You and the Law”
After attending law school at Loyola University, H. Dennis Beaver joined the Kern County District Attorney’s Office in California, where he established a consumer fraud section. He is into general law practice and writes a column in a syndicated newspaper, “you and the law. “Through his column, he offers free help to readers who need down-to-earth advice.” I know it sounds corny, but I love being able to use my education and experience to help, just to to help. When a reader contacts me, it’s a gift.”