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by Alan Royal
Jul 17 2017
As professionals age, each individual is accountable to apply their intellect to mitigate the risks associated with ageism. Since the last publication, Warren Buffett, at his annual shareholders meeting noted that one of his top executives is 92, and still running one of his largest business units. This statement speaks for itself.
Around the world countries are finding they are having to redefine the assumptions regarding age in the workplace. As an example, Japan, a country with a culture highly tied to tradition, was noted in the Wall Street Journal under the following headline “Working at 85: The Idea of Retirement Is Dying in Japan.” The reality is that regardless of where one lives in the world, we are seeing for the first-time lives extended due to advances in health care around the world. The commercial realities of a work force living longer is reflected in this recent headline “UPS Said to Join Growing List of Companies Freezing Pensions,” as employees are living materially longer.
To further add to the cultural impacts of today’s workforce the Millennial generation are causing organizations to reinvent their management practices as “Millennial’s Are Changing The Workplace.” This generation is demonstrating a strong bias toward electronic communication over face to face interaction, even if their boss is a few feet from their working area.
When one considers that organizations are not only having to deal with a legacy work force which insists on effectively working longer due to good health, resulting in delayed retirement; contrasted against the Millennial generation which is turning traditional management practices upside down, it should not be surprising that professional hiring and people asset retention is undergoing material disruption.
When an HR organization finds its long-established principles of people asset management being called into question, ageism is just one of many issues requiring rethinking. Organizational disruption results in change. When an organization finds itself with outdated human resource management guidelines, change will come to resolve disruption.
In previous publications of this series the reality of active ageism has been established as a reality; but it Does Not mean that candidates should surrender, rather raise their passion and intensity of their job search to overcome known bias. At the end of the day organizations want high performers. Disruption is occurring in organizations, as preconceived ideas as to how to optimize workforces for maximum performance is changing. The key message, as a professional one must be confident of their own skill set which stands out against others applying for positions. Knowing that ageism is a hiring barrier like any other personal hiring barrier we all have, purposefully and intently address this bias head on.
Most organizations have succession planning as part of their core human resources directives. These plans by definition make assumptions regarding how long professionals will remain in the work force. The best time to redefine one’s positioning in succession planning is to outperform those planned to be eventual replacements. High performers stand out and are not ignored. No rational organization is going to actively try to force high performers out of the organization. It is this author’s view that after decades of tradition, suggesting people should retire at a certain age as their skill set declines, many professionals assume this to be reality, as such allow their job performance to reflect this long held skill decline.
Since this author’s first position out of University, the concept of “believe to achieve” has been a guiding principle. Whether currently employed or seeking employment if one does not “believe they can achieve” in overcoming ageism bias, one will not. Attitude self presents itself in any current or potential job change scenario. As such, one needs to take ownership of their attitude and find a way to present one’s self in a manner which overcomes ageism.
As noted, the Millennial generation is entering the work force in growing numbers, and are themselves causing disruption in the work place. Open questions in many organizations remain outstanding as to how this emerging workforce will perform as compared to previous generations of workers. As has been noted in publication after publication, Millennials were raised by their Baby Boomer parents who placed work often ahead of quality of personal life. The resulting open question to organizations is in regards to the work ethic of Millennial’s contrasted against Boomers. If an organization has a major business emergency, will Millennial’s stay at work till midnight to solve such issues, like the Boomer generation, or simply go home? The uncertainties generated by this new Millennial work force, should be seen as opportunistic opportunity to overcome ageism.
The reality presented in this publication is that traditional held beliefs regarding professionals in the work force, and the age where their viability and differentiation decreases, is under reconsideration. The Millennial generation is entering the work force with a different set of work ethics and demands within the work place. These opposing forces reflect what is causing disruption in long held human resource practices.
When one is seeking a new position, or continuing to advance in a current career, ageism can be overcome. What is required is for one to approach each career move with passion and purposeful intent. It is up to the candidate and not the organization to present one’s self in a compelling and high value manner. This is best accomplished with quantitative data. When one can articulate precisely, and in a tangible way, what their historic contribution to organizations has been and can be, human resource professionals can be won over despite preconceptions tied to ageism.
As such, when one is actively engaged in a career move, present a modern physical persona with a clear and precise value proposition to an organization. If historically it has taken 3 interviews to secure a new position plan for 6. Disruption in organizational traditional hiring and promoting practices, will result in a change of hiring practice. By standing strong with an undisputable track record, one “can still achieve’.