“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Ephesians 5:21

 

AGEISM: CREATING A LOST GENERATION

One of my clients, John, has been looking to change jobs for five months. John has grown dissatisfied with his current industry and would like to work in an industry that has higher standards of excellence. John typically meets his sales objectives and is always in the top ranking of his company’s sales performance. In fact, throughout his career he has achieved close to two times the results of the standard.

It doesn’t take long when you talk to John to discover he is a man of high integrity and extraordinarily personable. He is a gifted communicator and executes his tasks at a high level. He is old school, customer needs first and whatever he does he does well!

Recently he had applied to jobs that he was more than qualified to perform and was denied. Not through a written form letter or verbal communication, but through silence. His follow up calls go unanswered and likewise his emails seeking status, receive no further communication.

When I first took John on, I told him, despite his outstanding resume and ability to work at a high level this rejection would happen. The reason, he is over sixty. Employers don’t hire people in their sixties.

More about John, he runs five miles five days a week. He is vibrant and many days works to eight or nine. His mind is fertile and flexible. He listens to learn and energizes those he works with. The perfect candidate. He is older and part of the greater societal movement when people want to continue their career well past sixty.

“Many people stay energetic and curious throughout their lives, never giving in to slothfulness or passivity.”

Too often I hear, we want someone young and energetic. But I always wonder, why is being young associated with being energetic. Many people stay energetic and curious throughout their lives, never giving in to slothfulness or passivity. Being energetic has little correlation to age. We either are or aren’t energetic, not because of age, because of our desire to perform.

When you look at the age make up of those who walk the two thousand miles of the Appalachian Trail. The age categories are those of either under twenty-eight or those over fifty-five. The percentage of those who start and complete this mighty trek, is the same for both age groups.

Looking further at the average stay at an employer by a new hire, younger hires stay a significantly shorter time than that of those who have more experience.

Those with experience have just that, experience. They know the right trails to take. They know that arrogance is a bad communication tool. They know this because they have experience.

In the American business place, which has made progress with many societal issues such as racism and gender, the older employee is still held back. The reality is that those over sixty will stay longer, have proven track records and be great team players. Perception of the aged is very different than reality.

“He himself had bought into the perception, because you are older, your skills are diminished.”

Another of my recent clients, Richard, was bemoaning the fact that his skills were so much poorer than his youthful counter-parts, making it hard for him to compete for promotions. When I probed his skill levels, I found his Excel levels equal or better than most. He knew R, the new database tool for Excel spreadsheets, when many younger employees still are learning R. He himself had bought into the perception, because you are older, your skills are diminished.

Buried in the book of Ephesians, we find today’s verse about how to treat each other. Treat each person we meet fairly and honestly, out of reverence to our Lord and Savior. Not to judge because of color, gender or beliefs. This also includes those who are aging. Fair dealing with all, regardless of biology.

What would Jesus say to those who ignore those who have aged? Would Jesus approve or disapprove? The answer to these questions gives us Christian’s insights as to our requirements when evaluating candidates.

Why not hire someone who will be an employee for many years past the average? Why not hire an employee with a “proven track record?” Why not get the value of someone who knows the trails? Why not hire someone who has learned the lessons of life?

Sure older employees aren’t the shiny new penny, but perhaps more valuable because of the wrinkles of their life.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Huy Phan

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