“Looking for staff in all the wrong places” – the value of mature workers. Five misconceptions

This blog contains many links to previous blogs and resources on this topic. Please explore them!

Many of you may remember the popular country western song “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” from Johnny Lee in 1980. Nowadays, it seems like so many companies looking for qualified people and complaining they can’t find any are looking in the wrong places. At the same time companies are moaning about labor shortages, I know of many great talented qualified older adults looking for work, getting passed over or not even being considered.

Here are some misconceptions about mature talent:

1) Older experienced workers are overpriced since they want to continue making or increasing their current salaries. Actually many senior workers are now financially secure and not working because they need to. They are working because they want to keep busy and their bodies and minds active. Many are willing to take part time, seasonal and lower paying work.

2) Older workers are slow and cannot learn new skills. Many older adults love to continue to learn and grow and view themselves as life long learners. They are excited about learning new things and understand the importance of keeping current in their fields. For example I myself continue as a diversity consultant and trainer at 66 years old, and each year like to add one new expertise to my portfolio. For example, in 2021, I added work around supporting nonbinary people in the workplace, and use of pronouns. (see my recent blog about this subject.)

3) Older people will probably miss more work because of illness. Not true. Most seniors are very loyal to their employers and will place a high priority on living healthy so they can provide their best services to their employers.

attractive woman 50 years old with a folder for documents

4) Older workers will be inflexible and not deal with schedule changes. Actually many senior workers would prefer to work part time or take on seasonal work and be available during peak times when additional staff are needed.

5) Older workers will clash with the younger talent. Yes, there are some older people who stereotype the younger generations as lazy or entitled, and frankly I would not want to work with bigots who stereotype entire groups of people myself. When hiring mature talent, look for those people who value diversity and enjoy teaming with and understanding the value that young people add to the workplace. Combining the creativity and understanding of the latest technology that young people have with the experience and market knowledge of the older generations can create powerful success for your organization.

Here are a few more points and links to blogs:
• Job-sharing (two people working part time) may be an ideal situation for mature talent that wants to work part time. Read my case study (part 1) on job sharing followed by the summary blog of 5 tips for successful job sharing.
• My 2013 blog about considerations of older talent and issues in the workplace.
• This 2020 blog linked to two podcasts interviews I participated in around older employees and veterans
• AARP has a robust set of resources for the working older adult.

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Please be in touch with me to discuss my consulting and training services around inclusive recruiting, or sign up for my 4 hour DiversityFIRST Virtual Suite “Inclusive Recruiting – the Why and the How on Aug 17, 2022.  Link and scroll down to August.


Part 2 of 3: The Diversity of Aging – Intersection with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Diversity

Older gay couples

Again, this blog is loaded with many useful and interesting links which I hope you will explore! (Bolded underlined)

In Part 1 of this series (link) I provided a general introduction to the topic of aging and shared some personal experiences I recently had which inspired me to write this series of blogs. Now I will write parts 2 and 3 in conjunction with the two core areas of my consulting practice – part 2 in relation to LGBT diversity and part 3 in relation to career development.

I appreciate the work of SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) which provided many of the below points.
First, some general facts about the aging LGBT population:
1. It is increasing rapidly and with the shift in culture, more older LGBT people are “coming out.” Recent estimates suggest that there are over 1.5M LGBT people over 65 in the USA and that will double by the year 2030.
2. A higher percentage of LGBT elders face financial hardships due to job benefit and social security inequities, and fewer family members to help care for them.
3. LGBT elders deal with a significantly higher rate of mental and physical health disparities. 39% of LGBT elders have contemplated suicide and 53% feel isolated from others (over double the general population)
4. Many LGBT elderly people face discrimination and stigma in the lives for our country’s systems that support the aging.

Many of these issues are even amplified for the aging transgender population. Many of these issues arise from the fact that many of today’s aging services providers are ill-equipped to provide competent and nondiscriminatory services to address the unique needs to transgender elders, and some health issues remain from barriers faced to receiving quality health care earlier in their life spans.

However, I see some encouraging signs that there is much more focus now on the intersection of aging and LGBT, and this emphasis must continue to development. There are growing resources for LGBT elders and their allies through organizations such as:
SAGE (link)– Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders. They also have many local chapters associated with local LGBT Centers.
AARP (link) – An Ally for Real Possibilities. If you do a search on their website search engine on LGBT – you will find that they produce a large number of their resources for the LGBT constituency.
Other hopeful signs I have seen recently include:
• The Carol Woods Retirement Community here in my own state of North Carolina, is a welcoming progressive community which even placed an ad recently in The Front Page, North Carolina’s LGBT bi-weekly paper.
• There was a full page ad in a recent Gay and Lesbian Review (bi-monthly magazine) for Fountaingrove Lodge, a new retirement community in California exclusively for the LGBT retirement community.

Also, the US Supreme Court Decision we have all been waiting on regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) could have a huge impact on this discussion.

And I will close with a link to two more articles in the April 26 – May 9, 2013 issue of Qnotes – one titled “Focus on LGBT Aging Grows” and a second article focusing on the LGBT Senior Housing becoming a hot topic among advocates.

Look for part 3 about the link to career development and succession planning in July!