Posts Tagged “experience matters”
Answer this question: How easy is it for you to strike up a good conversation with your younger colleagues in the office kitchen?
- Older job applicants told they wouldn’t be a “cultural fit” for the role
- Young people are being actively preferenced for tech-heavy roles
- Recruiter says there is a need for older Australians to work on their job skills, but calls for workplace age diversity targets
It may seem like a strange question, but that’s a benchmark some companies are using to decide who to hire, one Sydney-based recruiter tells us, and the assumption is that older Australians won’t know what to say to their younger colleagues.
When PM spoke to 44-year-old John Allie last month his confidence had begun to take a hit because after more than 100 job applications, and 30 final round interviews, the feedback was always the same.
“You interviewed well, they really liked you, but they didn’t feel you were a cultural fit for the role,” Mr Allie said.
“I mean what does that even mean?”
Mr Allie feared it was a bit of a catch-all comment to imply he wouldn’t get along with his younger co-workers.
So, PM asked those involved in the hiring process if Mr Allie’s fears were well founded.
“The candidate you were talking about saying it’s used as a bit of a catch-all is true,” Mark Smith, the group managing director of recruitment firm people2people, said.
He shared his own example of a middle-aged candidate being passed over for not being the right cultural fit in a call centre.
“We had a more mature guy that went in for the job,” he said.
“That’s the way the client described it to us and that’s how we had to pass it onto him.”
In this example, the company went with a younger candidate.
“The reality is that they asked him how are you going to deal with this particularly stressful job with the inbound calls,” Mr Smith explained.
“He said, ‘well I would engage in some banter in the kitchen with my colleagues’.
“That’s when the [company] turned to us and said, ‘you know what, he’s probably not going to be able to engage in the banter in the kitchen with his colleagues because he really won’t have too much in common with them to talk about.
“So they went with another candidate who happened to be younger.”
Young favoured for tech-heavy roles
But it’s not just navigating office banter that’s tripping up older Australian job candidates, said Kathryn Macmillan, the managing director of 923 Recruitment.
Her team places white-collar workers in finance, administration, sales, marketing and technical roles, from entry level to senior management.
She told PM that, for many admin and tech-heavy roles, companies are actively preferencing younger candidates.
“Perfect example of that is Single Touch Payroll,” she said.
“People in accounts need to be able to navigate a huge amount of software: MyGov ID, Single Touch Payroll, and it’s really quite complex.
“So it’s that ability to be proficient in that technological use.”
PM asked Ms Macmillan if she was seeing a preference from companies for younger people to take on those roles as opposed to older people who perhaps aren’t “digital natives”.
“So for people who are older it’s very important that they address that perception.”
Figures from the partly government-funded Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research show 18 per cent of workers aged 55-64 believe their organisation discriminates on the basis of age in recruitment and selection.
This preference for younger candidates is starting to show up in the number of older Australians being forced onto government assistance programs.
Australians aged between 45 and 65 now make up about half of all unemployment support recipients, with more than 330,000 on the welfare payment as of September last year.
‘Pick a footy team to follow’
Recruiter Mark Smith said there was definitely a need for older Australians to work on their job skills, but also called on the Government to establish workplace age diversity targets to combat the problem.
Age discrimination commissioner Kay Patterson told PM a large number of companies were breaching the law by discriminating on the basis of age.
PM asked Dr Patterson if the Government had any plans to set an age diversity target, at least for the public sector.
“I don’t know if setting targets is the way to go about it,” she said.
“My team here have been working on training programs for the NSW State Government to encourage their recruiters to look towards a multi-generational workforce and making sure there’s diversity — not only in terms of gender — but in terms of age as well.
“I think it’s about educating employers that they benefit from having a range of age groups.”
In the meantime, Mark Smith’s advice for underutilised or unemployed older Australians is to be specific when asking for feedback from recruiters.
“Ask the recruiter ‘what particular competencies was I lacking?'” he said.
“‘How would you describe the culture?’ and get them to describe it back to him.”
Oh, and pick a footy team to follow … seriously.
“What that means is that if you’re going to work in an environment where you’ve got a lot of people who are interested in AFL, if you’ve moved to Melbourne, you’ve got to pick up a team.”
Older adults offer leadership and experience, yet are often overlooked in the hiring process with HR instead focusing on millennials. That’s according to Ben Eatwell, CMO at Weploy.
Eatwell added that this is often out of a desire to “nurture the next generation of talent”, but also the satisfaction out of having a major impact on these younger minds.
“That’s quite a long way from retirement! We know diversity positively impacts innovation, culture and profits, but often age diversity has less focus.”
Eatwell said there are many advantages to employing older adults, particularly in positions where experience and leadership are needed. However, this doesn’t seem to be translating into more opportunities for older Australians.
“I think this has to do with trying to fit workers into traditional organisational structures – by exploring more agile, networked and outcome-oriented structures it can not only improve diversity but also productivity.”
Eatwell offers a few tips for HR professionals who want to boost the number of older Australians amongst their staff.
The starting point should always be a “thorough assessment of the recruitment process” to identify and mitigate where age discrimination could arise.
“One of the key traits we assess is learning agility – in a nutshell, the ability to pick new ideas up quickly,” he said.
“Research suggests that although you can make small improvements to your learning agility, it is more or less fixed and is not dependent on age.”
Consequently, choosing candidates based on learning agility can help add some objectivity to the hiring process.
From there it’s about developing a culture of lifelong learning. Mature employees have a huge amount of experience to share which can be “leveraged to increase overall productivity and morale”.
“Also I’ve seen reverse mentoring work very well, reducing knowledge gaps with both younger and more mature workers, as well as improving organisational culture.”
So what is lost by having nobody senior around?
“Often it’s the times of crisis when calm is needed, or when team morale is affected by a failed project, that age diverse workforces show critical value,” said Eatwell.
“We do a lot of ‘learning by doing’ and that includes what to do when things do not go according to plan.”
Eatwell added that leadership is a quality that is not tied to age, but the “reassurance of someone who has seen a crisis and worked through it to tell the tale” can be invaluable in making sure the right work gets done in these high-pressure moments.
Sometimes, the only senior person on a project is the boss, and employees are reluctant to confess an error that can lead to disaster if unaddressed, he added.
“Having a senior member of the workforce who can act as that neutral-confidant, and know what to do with the information, has considerable value.”
Employees from diverse ages have different experiences, perceptions and approaches when it comes to things like problem-solving, decision making and task handling, he said.
“They can also use various strategies – starting from the way they think, plan and execute tasks, which can influence operations in a more subtle, but still valuable way.”
People are living longer, and organizations are shifting their attitudes toward older workers as a result. Organizations that can turn advancing worker age into an asset could gain a competitive advantage.
Longer lives, older workforces
Rising life expectancies and an aging global workforce present organizations with unprecedented challenges and untapped opportunities. Companies that plan, design, and experiment with workforce strategies, workplace policies, and management approaches for longer working lives can reap a longevity dividend. Those that lag behind face potential liability concerns and skill gaps. Creating ways for people to have meaningful, productive multi-stage and multidimensional careers is a major opportunity to engage workers across generations.
One of modern science’s greatest achievements is longevity: the unprecedented length of human lives today. Average global life expectancy has rocketed from 53 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2015—and it is still climbing,1 with life expectancy projected to grow by 1.5 years per decade.2 Longevity, combined with falling birth rates, is dramatically increasing the share of older people in populations worldwide.3 Looking ahead, the number of retirees per worker globally is expected to decline from 8:1 today to 4:1 in 2050.4
These demographic facts have profound implications for individuals, organizations, and society. In this era of longevity, an individual’s career can last far longer, spanning generations of technologies and businesses. Companies can employ people into their 60s, 70s, and beyond as the pool of traditional “working-age” (20- to 54-year-old) adults shrinks. For their part, many individuals find the need—financially and/or emotionally—to stay in the workforce past “traditional” retirement age.
In our 2018 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 29 percent of the respondents rated longevity as a very important issue, and another 40 percent rated it as important. Respondents in Japan in particular, whose population is rapidly aging, were especially concerned about the issue, with 41 percent saying that it is very important.
The looming impacts of global aging
Population aging poses a workforce dilemma for both economies and organizations. Thirteen countries are expected to have “super-aged” populations—where more than one in five people is 65 or older—by 2020, up from just three in 2014.5 These include major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, and South Korea. China’s 65-and-older population is projected to more than triple from approximately 100 million in 2005 to over 329 million in 2050.6 In fact, analysts have estimated that 60 percent of the world’s population over 65 will live in Asia by 2030.7
Compounding the challenge, almost all developed economies now have birth rates below the replacement rate of 2.1.8 This means that companies in these countries must either attract workers from abroad or tap into the maturing workforce. For a view of the challenges ahead, one needs look no further than Japan—the world’s oldest country—where a shortage of roughly 1 million employees in 2015 and 2016 is estimated to cost nearly $90 billion.9
New research is being conducted to help organizations shape their talent and business strategies for an era of longevity. The MIT AgeLab, for example, works with businesses, government, and other stakeholders to develop solutions and policies aimed at engaging the elderly population. The AgeLab uses consumer-centered thinking to understand the challenges and opportunities of longevity in order to catalyze innovation across business markets.10
Older talent as a competitive advantage
As talent markets grow more competitive, organizations often find it valuable to keep older workers on the job rather than replace them with younger ones. Our research shows that older workers represent a largely untapped opportunity: Only 18 percent of this year’s respondents said that age is viewed as an advantage in their organization. But leading companies are beginning to focus on this talent pool as a competitive advantage.
The older labor pool represents a proven, committed, and diverse set of workers. More than 80 percent of US employers believe that workers aged 50 and more are “a valuable resource for training and mentoring,” “an important source of institutional knowledge,” and offer “more knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.”11 The UK government incentivizes employers to retain, retrain, and recruit older workers, and it is committed to policies that support lifetime learning and training and decrease loneliness and social isolation.12
Proactive organizations are tapping into the older talent pool by extending their career models, creating new development paths, and inventing roles to accommodate workers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. This year, 16 percent of the respondents we surveyed for this report say their companies are creating special roles for older workers, and 20 percent are partnering with older workers to develop new career models. Organizations could find great value in older workers’ ability to serve as mentors, coaches, or experts. Taking on these kinds of roles allows older workers to “pass the baton” to younger generations, while making room for ambitious younger workers.
Many companies are also experimenting with workplace changes to help older employees remain in the workforce. For instance, BMW increased productivity on an assembly line staffed with older workers by 7 percent in just three months through simple changes such as providing cushioned floors and adjustable work benches.13 Home Depot and other organizations are engaging older workers with flexible scheduling options and part-time positions.14 Further, as many as one-third of retirees are willing to work part-time, offering opportunities to leverage this group on a contingent or gig basis.15
Reskilling also plays a role in successful strategies to utilize older talent. One global telecommunications provider encourages senior workers to reinvent themselves and invests in programs to help them acquire new technical skills.16 Software engineers who have built careers on older technologies such as COBOL or C++ can use this experience to learn mobile computing, AI, and other technologies at a very rapid rate.
An interesting and little-known fact, moreover, is that older people are among the most entrepreneurial of workers across age groups. Between 1996 and 2014, the percentage of older workers (aged 55–64) starting new ventures increased—exceeding (by 68 percent) the rate of entrepreneurship among millennial entrepreneurs (aged 20–34), which actually decreased during the same period.17
The new challenges of an aging workforce
The transition toward older talent can present challenges. Older workers may have specialized workplace needs and can attract resentment from younger workers, and they often enjoy higher salaries because of their tenure. Organizations looking to assimilate an older worker population may face the need to design new wage policies, create more flexible rewards programs, and train young leaders to manage people across generations (including team members who may be their parents’ age).
Pensions are another area where longevity impacts organizations. The World Economic Forum estimates that a $70 trillion global retirement savings gap exists today, highlighting the sharp difference between retirement needs and actual retirement income. Moreover, this gap is projected to grow to $400 trillion by 2050.18 Helping older adults to work longer and manage their retirement savings will be a vital need for companies in order to avoid the negative productivity effects of financial stress.
Our Global Human Capital Trends research shows that many organizations are unprepared to deal with the aging of global workforces. Nearly half of the respondents we surveyed (49 percent) reported that their organizations have done nothing to help older workers find new careers as they age. Rather than seeing opportunity, 20 percent of respondents view older workers as a competitive disadvantage, and in countries such as Singapore, the Netherlands, and Russia, this percentage is far higher. In fact, 15 percent of respondents believed that older employees are “an impediment to rising talent” by getting in the way of up-and-coming younger workers.
Are older workers an advantage or a disadvantage?
Perceptions of workers over 55 years old spanned both extremes, though these perceptions varied significantly by country.
Based on these findings and our anecdotal observations, we believe there may be a significant hidden problem of age bias in the workforce today. Left unaddressed, perceptions that a company’s culture and employment practices suffer from age bias could damage its brand and social capital.
Age discrimination is already becoming a mainstream diversity issue and liability concern. More than 21,000 age discrimination complaints were filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016.19 The problem is particularly acute in Silicon Valley’s technology industry, where older software engineers are often pushed to take lower-paying jobs or look for work outside Silicon Valley because of the emphasis on the “youth culture.”20
The demographic math is undeniable: As national populations age, challenges related to engaging and managing the older workforce will intensify. Companies that ignore or resist them may not only incur reputational damage and possible liabilities, but also risk falling behind those organizations that succeed in turning longevity into a competitive advantage.
The bottom line
Staying competitive in a world of unprecedented longevity demands that organizations adopt new strategies to engage with older talent. Traditional assumptions—that learning ends in one’s 20s, career progression ends in the 40s, and work ends in the 60s—are no longer accurate or sustainable. Rethinking workforce strategies across multiple generations to account for longer lives will require open minds and fresh approaches.
Workers and job seekers aged over 45 will be eligible for training programs to ensure they have the skills necessary to stay in the labour market for as long as they want instead of winding up on the unemployment scrapheap.
As part of the government’s baby boomers package, it will allocate $189.7 million over five years to assist mature-age workers adapt to the changing needs of the economy.
The bulk of the funding, $136.4 million over four years beginning in financial year 2019, will be available as targeted training for registered jobseekers to develop digital skills, enhance their employability and to identify job opportunities in local labour markets.
A Skills and Training Incentive, costing $19.3 million over three years, will provide as much as $2000 for workers aged 45 – 70 at risk of being made redundant through technological or economic change to undertake reskilling or upskilling. The worker or employer will have to match the funding.
A separate $15.2 million program – the Job Change Initiative – will be set up to outline career options for mature-age workers who are considering early retirement or facing redundancy.
The government will expand its Entrepreneurship Facilitators program, which promotes self-employment, to 20 additional locations at a cost of $17.7 million.
Recruiting and retraining
Incentives to hire a worker aged over 50 will be increased modestly by $1.1 million to provide additional wage subsidies for employers worth up to $10,000.
As part of the effort to keep Australians employed longer, workers will be able to undertake an online skills checkpoint when aged between 45 and 65 to provide advice to building their careers or transitioning to new industries.
As well as looking at workers’ employment history and qualifications, the checkpoint will look at their involvement in the community, such as volunteering, to see whether those skills would translate to a new career path.
By targeting workers aged in their late 40s, the hope is they will receive assistance to prolong their careers before running the risk of retrenchment, seniors advocates argue.
The government has flagged a need to drive cultural change and stop discrimination against older workers, promising to develop strategies in conjunction with business and seniors lobby groups.
“The government understands the importance of working with employers to ensure they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining mature age people,” Jobs Minister Michaelia Cash said.
“We also need to support Australians most affected by our transitioning economy by providing opportunities for them to acquire the skills that will equip them for future opportunities and jobs.”
Older workers must not be left behind when it comes to digital skills training, according to a survey and report from Business in the Community.
The poll of 2,000 employees, 1,000 of whom were over 50, found that older workerss are not receiving the training and skills development they need to succeed in the digital era. Only 25% of employees aged 50-59, and 22% of those aged 60-69, felt their employer encouraged them to take up learning and development opportunities. This is compared with 44% of 18-39 year-olds and 32% of 40-49 year-olds.
Older workers were also more likely to feel that their employer did not inform them about how technology and automation would impact their job compared to younger employees.
Separate research from McKinsey Global Institute has forecast that up to a third of US and German workers, and nearly half of those in Japan, may need to switch occupations by 2030 due to a sudden surge in automation. The researchers describe this as an upheaval on a par with the shift from agriculture to manufacturing.
Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Alliance Manchester Business School, told the Financial Times that that older workers, who remember a time when jobs were for life, may struggle with re-skilling.
“Thirty years ago the psychological contract was if you [work hard] for us we’ll give you career development,” he said. “Now the contract is that we expect you to be committed . . . but we cannot guarantee future employment.”
Therefore, what can businesses do to support older workers in their upskilling journey? Nupur Malik is the HR Director at Tata Consultancy Services, which helped support the Business in the Community research. She called on organisations to take action.
“We believe that training and development is an ongoing process and support all our employees to gain the skills needed to succeed at work, whatever their age,” she said. “Taking action will mean more businesses can thrive in an increasingly competitive global business environment and support employees to stay in good work for longer.”
“By supporting older workers to be ‘digital adopters’ employers can show they value experience, ambition and ensure that their businesses are prepared for future skills shortages,” added Lincoln.
by Kimberly Palmer, AARP
Keep up in the workplace by learning the facts about age discrimination.
Age discrimination is real. Two out of three workers between ages 45 and 74 say they have seen or experienced age discrimination at work, and job seekers over age 35 cite it as a top obstacle to getting hired. And if you happen to work in the high-tech or entertainment industries, your chances of experiencing age discrimination are even higher.
Age Discrimination Facts
Here are 10 important facts you should know about age discrimination:
1. Age discrimination is illegal at any stage of employment, including during hiring, promotions, raises and layoffs. The law also prohibits workplace harassment, by co-workers states have stronger protections. Also prohibited: mandatory retirement ages except for a few exemptions, such as airline pilots and public safety workers.
2. It is currently legal for employers and prospective employers to ask your age as well as your graduation date. AARP is working to strengthen protections against this line of inquiry. You can opt to remove this identifying information from your LinkedIn profile, or try to deflect the question in an interview, but there’s nothing stopping a prospective employer from asking.
3. A 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling made it harder for older workers who’ve experienced proven age discrimination to prevail in court. The court said plaintiffs must meet a higher burden of proof for age discrimination than for other types of discrimination. In other words, the Supreme Court moved the law backward and sent a message to employers that some amount of proven discrimination is legally allowed.
4. Most Americans age 50 and up — 8 in 10, according to AARP research — say they want to see Congress create stronger laws to prevent age discrimination at work.
5. Most people believe age discrimination begins when workers hit their 50s, according to AARP research of workers between the ages of 45 and 74. Still, 22 percent believe it begins even earlier, when workers hit their 30s and 40s. And 17 percent say they think it begins in one’s 60s.
6. There’s also a gender difference in the perception of age discrimination: While 72 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 74 said they think people face age discrimination at work, only 57 percent of men in the same age range said so.
7. Among older workers surveyed by AARP, not getting hired is the most common type of age discrimination they experienced, with 19 percent of respondents citing it. An additional 12 percent say they missed out on a promotion because of age, and 8 percent say they were laid off or fired.
8. You can take action. If you think you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can also work with a lawyer to file a lawsuit. Before taking either of these steps, consider going through your company’s grievance system, if it has one. Know that filing a lawsuit can be expensive and there is no guarantee of victory. To help bolster your case, be sure to keep a careful record of all of the alleged discrimination.
9. Last year, the EEOC received 20,857 charges of age discrimination. Age discrimination makes up more than 1 in 5 of the discrimination charges received by the EEOC.
10. Contrary to stereotypes, workers age 50 and up are among the most engaged members of the workforce,according to an AARP study. Sixty-five percent of employees age 55 and up are “engaged,” compared to 58 to 60 percent of younger employees. They also offer employers lower turnover rates and greater levels of experience.
Kimberly Palmer is an AARP writer for work and jobs. She is also the author of the personal finance books “Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family” and “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.”
AM By Brett Worthington
Australia is at risk of a pension crisis unless employers stop their “discrimination” against older workers, advocates for regional Australia have warned.
The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has warned the Federal Government’s pension bill would rise from $45 billion to $51 billion within three years, unless efforts were made to help more mature workers gain employment, particularly in regional communities.
Chief executive Jack Archer said continued unemployment of people older than 55 would cut economic growth and put a greater strain on public resources.
“We hear that there is a lot of people who would like to work, who would love to stay in the workforce either part-time or full-time even though they’re in their late 50s, 60s and even into their 70s,” he said.
“But we’re not doing a very good job of giving them the training, giving them the incentives around the pension, and working with employers to stop the discrimination around employing older workers.”
Ageing demographic in regional areas
The RAI has today released a report that outlines the economic benefits of hiring older workers, which it said would help accelerate economic growth in regional communities.
These communities are ageing at faster rates than metropolitan areas.
Mr Archer said the ageing regional demographic was partly the result of people shifting away from cities when they retired.
He said Victor Harbour in South Australia, Port Macquarie-Hastings in NSW, and East Gippsland in Victoria all had at least 20 per cent of the population reliant on the aged pension.
“It basically means you’ve got a lot of talent on the bench, a lot of people who could be involved and contributing who are sitting around homes and wishing they were doing something else,” he said.
“The social benefits of [tackling] this [will be] enormous in these regions where the impact is severe now.”
Getting older people into work
The report calls for a variety of approaches to getting more older Australians into work.
“For regions with low participation rates like the Bass Coast in Victoria or the Lockyer Valley in Queensland, the focus will be to increase workforce engagement in general,” the report stated.
“For those with high participation rates but also a high incidence of part-time employment like Augusta-Margaret River WA and Busselton WA, the policy focus will need to be more targeted towards addressing underemployment.”
The report also suggested part-time work could not only keep older people employed for longer, but it could help lure others back into work.
“As Australians approach retirement age, the opportunity for more flexible working arrangements opens up new opportunities for older Australians who want to stay engaged in the workforce, but scale down at the same time,” the report stated.
“For many, the inability to scale down to a part-time role often means having to drop out of the workforce completely.”
No luck after 150 job applications
Wagga Wagga man Peter Sweeney took a voluntary redundancy from the public sector five years ago.
The 66-year-old said when he attempted to return to employment, he was unable to secure an interview, let alone a job.
“Not everybody is ready to lay down and die,” he said.
Mr Sweeney said he applied for at least 150 jobs before he gave up his hunt.
“I had strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills — written and verbal — and investigation skills,” he said.
“I would have said they would have all been very current. I was able to cope with the applications on the internet.
“There is no doubt in my mind that my age was the thing that kept coming up.
Mr Sweeney said he became involved in a men’s shed group, where he discovered other people had been through a similar experience.
He took his superannuation as a pension and was now entitled to receive a partial aged pension.
“People have told me that they don’t like putting older people on because they’re too set in their ways,” he said.
“Their skill levels are out of date, they can’t take instruction from younger people and they’re generally too tired.
“They want young people. They want people they can socialise with, whereas the oldies are interested in different things.
“The ones that do employ seniors do it for that reason — they don’t want to mess around with a lot of people who have got too busy social lives and can’t come to work on Monday.”
Economic benefit from employing older workers
Mr Archer said as the population aged the workforce shrank, and that risked future economic growth.
But he said that could be reversed provided employers embraced an older workforce.
“In some regions we can see an extra $30 to $40 million of annual consumption in the local area as a result of lifting participation of older workers by 2 or 3 per cent,” he said.
“That then flows on to other jobs in the community.
“What that tells us is if you get the right mix of incentives, you can really have a significant impact on local economies.
“[When] those people are earning [an income], their pension bills will either disappear or be much lower and the government will get a benefit from that.”
If you have an elderly parent, there is a worrying new fraud that you must warn them of, after a number of older Aussies were robbed of their life savings by a particularly complex phone-and-bank scam.
The unusually detailed fraud runs like this: a person telephones, claiming to be from an expensive jewellery store, and warns the victim that their credit card is being used to purchase a particularly pricey item.
The ‘jewellery salesperson’ informs tells the victim that they’re concerned their card is being used fraudulently and warns them to call their bank and the police, and even helpfully offers to transfer them to the police so they can report the crime.
However, the phone transfer is to a fake police officer, who then advises the victim that staff within their own Australian bank are involved in the fraud and that they must not alert them that the gig’s up. Instead, the ‘police officer’ advises the victim to transfer the money they have in their Australian bank account to a UK account via the international bank transfer system, in order to ‘protect’ it from the scammers.
The victim is warned to carry out the transfer without mentioning its purpose to bank staff, whether they do so by telephone or in a branch.
But the UK bank accounts are actually controlled by the scammers, who then make off with the money. Once money leaves Australia, it is difficult to retrieve, even if it is paid into a legitimate UK bank account.
The fraudsters are known to be targeting Australians over the age of 75. And although their ploy may sound implausible, Starts at 60 has been told that a number of older people have sent a significant sum overseas in just the past few days.
One in two hiring managers have witnessed age discrimination in their organisations’ recruitment processes, according to research released today.
The Robert Walters whitepaper, based on a survey of more than 930 hiring managers and 1,500 professionals in Australia and New Zealand, shows many professionals also reported experiencing age discrimination during their careers.
Some 74 per cent of Baby Boomers said they had been discriminated against in a job interview because of their age, followed by 36 per cent of Gen X workers and 34 per cent of Gen Y workers, the research found.
And on top of the 50 per cent of hiring managers who had seen age discrimination in their organisation’s recruitment, 58 per cent said they had seen colleagues overlooked for career progression because of their age.
Gen Y claim to be the most hard done by in this area, with 84 per cent claiming they were discriminated against, followed by 54 per cent of Baby Boomers and 33 per cent of Gen X.
The whitepaper blames unconscious bias, saying an example of this is the disconnect between the different age groups’ stated work preferences, and how hiring managers view them.
Source: Generation gaps? Mythbusting assumptions about age in the workforce
Ageism ‘too salient to ignore’
Another study, conducted by University of South Australia academics, found nearly a third of people had experienced some form of age-related discrimination while employed or looking for work in the past 12 months, according to researcher Justine Irving.
Irving told HR Daily that while studying retirement intentions, the researchers found significant evidence of ageism, which was “so salient that we thought, ‘we can’t ignore this'”.
In their resulting survey of 2,100 people aged 45 years and over, the researchers found many believed they had been on the receiving end of negative assumptions regarding their skills, learning abilities or cognition.
“There was a perception of older workers that because they were a certain age they would struggle to pick up new work systems, particularly technological-based systems,” Irving says.
There was also an assumption they would take longer to learn new things, and work more slowly, she says.
Negative generalisations about employees’ work capacity as they get older is “quite systemic”, she adds, noting ageism isn’t specific to the workforce. “It actually crosses all different levels of society, so I think that in the workplace, you just see it because it’s something that affects people’s ability to maintain and retain work.
“I believe it is slowly changing, but I think it’s just one of those things that will take time.”
The researchers also found participants experienced limited opportunities for training and promotion, Irving says.
“There was an assumption that ‘they’re a bit older, they’re likely to retire in the near future, it’s not something they would be interested in’.”
Participants reported that when they were asked to act in management or supervisor roles, they were often not considered for the position permanently – “they were always looked at as temporary or stop gaps, rather than actually being considered as somebody appropriate for that role into the future”.
Another finding was that when people decided to change careers or move state, for example, and had long work histories, higher education levels, and extensive experience and qualifications, they would suddenly “hit a wall” in their careers.
“So they would put their applications in, everything would go along swimmingly, until they got to the interview stage, and they said that they would see the [recruiters’] faces change once they saw them, and they put that down to their age,” Irving says.
“A lot of recruiters would tell them, ‘oh you weren’t considered, I’m sorry, because you’re overqualified or too experienced’, but how these people interpreted that – because they heard it so often – was ‘this just means you’re too old’.”
To ensure age discrimination doesn’t occur in the workplace, HR professionals must first identify whether employees have conscious, or unconscious, age-related assumptions, Irving says.
“Some people don’t think they have ageist attitudes, but if they looked at the way they judged a particular applicant or looked at their own policies, or their recruitment break up, perhaps they might see there are patterns emerging,” she says.
Educating and training managers to “rebut age-related negative assumptions and generalisations”, and having policies that encourage diversity and inclusion in the workforce, can also help, she adds.
Robert Walters recommends employers help managers and employees identify unconscious bias and factor this into their decision-making.
Employers have been encouraged to consider older job candidates, after an 89-year-old man in the UK who claimed he was “dying from boredom” successfully found a job.
The Guardian reports Joe Bartley, an elderly resident of Devon, England, posted a job advert in the local newspaper last month seeking 20 hours of work a week.
“Senior citizen 89 seeks employment in Paignton area. 20hrs+ per week. Still able to clean, light gardening, DIY and anything. I have references. Old soldier, airborne forces. Save me from dying of boredom!” Bartley wrote.
Read more: One in four older Australians experience age discrimination at work: Study
Just two days after The Guardian’s article, Bartley received two offers of part-time work and has accepted a hospitality role with a local family-run café.
The café’s owner Sarah Martin told the Guardian, “no matter what your age or your background, you deserve a chance”.
“A lot of people who come here don’t just come for coffee, they come for a chat, so Joe is perfect,” Martin told The Guardian.
“How often do you get an 89-year-old person approaching you and saying he wants to work? Usually, we have to go out and find people, and when we get them, sometimes they don’t even want to work.”
Bartley also received a job offer from a bakery in a nearby town, but reportedly turned it down, as he could not easily travel to the business.
Psychologist Eve Ash believes businesses everywhere should consider hiring older workers, saying many of them a “defying expectations”.
“We typically don’t associate working with older people, we typically associate them with sitting around and taking it easy,” Ash says.
“We need to see fewer age judgements. There’s a perception once you hit 70, it’s time on from then on.”
“A whole new workforce”
Ash believes a whole new workforce exists in people over the age of 70, with older workers having “a different type of determination and stamina”. Ash’s own father still works as a land surveyor at the age of 92, with no plans to retire until he hits 100.
Some concessions do need to be made when considering older workers, Ash says, as “40 hour, nine to five jobs” are generally not suitable.
“At any age over 70 there are certain things need to be tested, like driving skills. Older workers are also more suited to shorter weeks and irregular working hours,” Ash says.
“There’s a wide range of things older people could be doing, like customer service or minding things.”
“We need to remove these concepts of age [limiting] employability potential.”
Ash says more evidence is needed to see exactly what sort of jobs are suitable for older workers, but firmly believes they are more likely to “have the time and the care to do things”.
“We might discover they have amazing positive mood characteristics, and in the workplace, this is extremely important,” she says.
It was not reported how many hours Bartley would be working at the café, but on Sundays, he will catch a lift with his boss to work, while catching the bus the rest of the time.
“We think about these things all the time. We are never going to be rich, but we like to give something back, so when we saw the advert there was no question – the minute we saw it we knew we’d give him a job,” Martin told The Guardian.