Managing an Aging Team
Being Flexible and Positive
Sunny is a 57-year-old industrial designer, who's spent 25 years working for an organization in New Jersey, but he's starting to think of retiring. He knows he can afford to stop working, but he's not sure he wants to.
He has lots of hobbies he enjoys, but he also loves his work. So when he hears about an opportunity at a company on the West Coast, developing new products, he realizes he doesn't want a rest, he wants a challenge.
The hiring manager has seen Sunny's application and, while she knows he's qualified, she's not sure he's going to have the energy or enthusiasm for the job. She wonders whether it's worth interviewing him.
Under the U.S. Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against anyone over 40 based on their age. The consequences of doing so can be quite serious, and can include negative publicity and damage to your organization's reputation. Employers may be liable to pay lost wages and/or future earning capacity, damages for emotional distress, and, in some cases, be required to reinstate dismissed employees. Employers may also be required to pay the employee's attorneys' fees.
As a manager, it's important to be able to deal with an increasingly age-diverse team. In this article, we'll explore the advantages and challenges of working with older team members, and we'll look at how you can manage your people in a way that benefits everyone.
This article focuses on age discrimination in the U.S. Other countries have different policies and practices, so carefully research laws in your own state or country, and check with your organization's HR department, before you take any action.
The Aging Workforce
According to a study in the Harvard Gazette, people are becoming increasingly healthy later in life. The National Healthy Worksite program says that we are also living longer, with life expectancy advancing from 70 to 78 in the U.S. in the last 50 years. The large baby boomer generation has now reached aged 65, and many older people want to continue working. There is also the financial need for older adults to work beyond the traditional retirement age, due to the high cost of health insurance, lower rates of pension coverage (particularly following the financial crisis), and a desire to accumulate more savings....