Are you among those incited to urge people to “break the stereotype!” when you hear or see individuals, such as old and young workers in modern workplaces, being unfairly judged based on their age?
Even the most balanced managers sometimes find themselves lured into thinking and commenting that people in their twenties must be technologically adept, obsessed with keeping fit, hop jobs frequently, and have an inflated view of themselves. On the other hand, those advancing in years may be stubborn, easily exhausted and/or want to slow down.
There are real-life cases that may validate these stereotypes, but not all individuals fall in the mold that lots of people may perceive them to be.
Chances are, ranking officers in your firm may be thinking that workers pushing into their 50s or 60s may be looking forward to greater leisure hours (read: retirement). Labels being attached to people are as old as the history of ancient civilizations. The thing is, working lives today are going through big transformations.
DEBUNKING AGE-OLD STEREOTYPES
Today’s old and young workers cannot be seen anymore as falling only under certain categories. The full-time office worker may also be an entrepreneur running an online business on the side. A mature office worker may be more physically fit than his younger counterparts. The possibilities debunking age-old stereotypes are endless.
A recent survey that polled 10,000 old and young workers from different corners of the world, with ages hovering from 24 to 80, found that a lot of the qualities, habits and desires commonly attributed to the younger generation are shared by the other members of the workforce falling under different generations.
In their 2016 book, The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott opined that the main reason may be because people have evolved new habits and are presently working longer, and working differently.
At some point, the merging of different generations – baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964), Generation X (those born from 1965 to 1984), Generation Y (people falling anywhere from the middle of the 1970s to the mid-2000s) and the millennials at workplaces will lead to shared experiences. In effect, old and young workers may eventually see most of the `age-related stereotypes’ breaking down.
There are other foreseeable events based on old and young workers’ plans/experiences. Because baby boomers are inclined to expect their standard of living to decrease when they retire, and because a considerable chunk have wisened up enough to have a backup plan, they may continue to stay in the workforce and/or invest in marketable skills. Interestingly, a big chunk of Generation X also plan to keep working past the age of 65. In contrast, majority of millennials may retire at 65 or sooner. Therein are some of the key findings uncovered from the study.
STUDY FINDINGS ON EVOLVING WORK HABITS
The findings are summed up as follows:
- It is not only the younger set, or the millennials and Gen-Y “yuppies” who are excited and positive about their work.
- Investment in skills happens to all ages, not just the younger generation.
- Exploring options, or what the world has to offer, happens not just to the young
- Older people strive to get fit. While certain careers held by young people necessitate a plan to stay robust, the study uncovered that the older generations work hardest to stay fit. To cope with the long working schedules, and to adhere to their long-held belief that health is wealth, the baby boomers and Gen-X people have taken their wellness into consideration and are eating and living well.
- It is not just the older people who tend to get easily tired and want to slow down; those in their prime and millennials want to slow down and look forward to retirement.
The study is by no means conclusive. You may find old and young workers having the same sentiments when it comes to how they view their health, work, and retirement. The study, nonetheless, serves as a wake-up call and timely reminder for companies who tend to be shackled by stereotypes that lead to unfair decisions on whom to recommend, promote or retire.
Photo Source: Thomas Schmidt/Wikimedia Commons