When Paul Adler turned 65, he didn’t retire. The former IBM executive and later government employee has found another job as a substitute elementary teacher near his home in Bethesda, Maryland, but the road to getting there takes perseverance.
“There were several steps,” he said, “and surprisingly to me, I kept pressing.” “What struck me most about the interview was that the interviewer wanted to make sure that, at my age, I was committed to following through. She seemed skeptical that I would really be replaced on a regular basis.”
That apprehension of older workers may be changing among employers — finally.
More than three in five employers said they gave “a great deal” or “a great deal of consideration” to job applicants 50 or older when hiring in 2022, according to a new Transamerica Institute workplace survey.
And more than half (53%) of employers agree with the statement, “Many employees at my company expect to work after 65 or do not plan to retire,” according to the report, which surveyed 1,876 employers and 5,725 workers at for-profit companies.
The findings offer hope that ageism in the workplace may diminish as demographic changes force employers to consider older workers, who often prove to be the most satisfied employees.
“The headwinds faced by senior job seekers are finally subsiding,” Kathryn Collinson, CEO and president of the nonprofit Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Retirement Center, told Yahoo Finance.
“Many employers are now considering job applicants over 50, a segment of the workforce that has historically been ignored because of ageism,” she said. “In many ways, the pandemic has opened doors for both employers and workers as a result of severe labor shortages and the rapid development of flexible working arrangements ranging from schedules to remote working.”
Who thinks of old workers?
According to the survey, 71% of medium firms and 69% of large firms reported giving “a great deal” or “a great deal of consideration” to applicants over 50, more than 58% of small businesses who said that.
And more than half of employers (54%) say the company’s culture focuses on professional growth and development among employees of all ages, including those 50 and over. While few employers emphasize it “too much” (17%), more than one in three employers emphasize “very little” (37%) or “some” on it (34%).
Frequently cited programs include traditional and/or reverse counseling (48%), job training (46%), and professional development programs (32%). More than a quarter (28%) offer specific training that addresses generational differences and helps prevent age discrimination.
While “considerate” doesn’t actually mean that the employer gave a worker 50 or older, there is new evidence that employment increases for workers in that age group. The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older fell from 2.8% in April last year to 2.3% last month, according to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
The Transamerica report suggests that employers may finally be catching up to the stark demographic reality. By 2030, 1 in 6 people in the world will be 60 or older, according to data from the World Health Organization. Three years ago, there were more people over 60 than children under 5.
“The collapse in fertility rates globally, and an increase in life expectancy, will lead to a sharp decline in the working-age population,” Bradley Schurman, demographic strategist and author of The Supernatural Age, told Yahoo Finance.
“Older employees leaving the workforce could disrupt industries that depend on knowledge and experience,” he added. “This kind of loss of expertise will put pressure on companies to find ways to hire and retain older workers — an easy fix. Businesses that don’t provide accommodations won’t survive.”
However, age discrimination remains a stumbling block for some workers. As baby boomers continue to age, they find they need to continue working to meet their financial obligations, “but many believe they are denied work because of their age,” Ramona Schindelheim, editor-in-chief of WorkingNation, told Yahoo Finance.
A survey published by AARP revealed that nearly 4 in 5 older workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace – the highest percentage since the organization began surveying on the subject in 2003.
This is what makes Transamerica’s report so compelling. Change, Collinson noted, may be on the horizon. According to the report, only 5% of employers have not considered job applicants over the age of 50.
“That’s very encouraging for me,” Collinson said.
Older workers ‘more satisfied’
For employers who hire and keep older workers, the payoff is happy workers.
Those workers who feel satisfied in many aspects of their jobs are the oldest, according to a February survey of 5,188 American adults who work part- or full-time by the Pew Research Center.
“Although they make up a small percentage of the workforce (7%), older workers are among the most satisfied with their jobs overall and with various aspects of their work, such as their relationships with co-workers and their manager,” Kim Parker, research director, tells SELF. Social Trends in Pew Research Center, Yahoo Finance. “They are also more likely to find work enjoyable and fulfilling, and less likely to find it stressful or stressful, compared to younger workers.”
Two-thirds (67%) of workers ages 65 and older say they are very or very satisfied with their work in general, compared to 55% of those ages 50 to 64, and 51% of those ages 30 and 49 years old, and 44% of those under 18. up to 29.
They are also most likely to say that their employer cares about their welfare as a great or reasonable amount. The survey found that 61% of those 65 and older say this, versus about half in each of the three younger groups.
Count Adler is among those who are very satisfied with his job.
“I wanted to keep working and finding a purpose at this point in life, and there’s an immeasurable vitality from being around young people,” Adler added.
His colleagues discovered that he is also good at it.
“Teachers are now calling and emailing me directly to see if I can replace specific classes on specific days,” he said. “I follow the teacher’s instructions, keep students on track and on time, answer some academic questions and explain topics they are struggling with.”
As for aging as a problem: “I didn’t experience any age discrimination, although some kids told me I was older than their grandparents.”
Kerry is a senior reporter and columnist for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @employee.
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