Older Workers, Take Heart; Employers, Take Note

I love seeing people who love their jobs  - especially since many consider themselves lucky just to have a job in this tough economy. A short segment from CNNMoney paints a hopeful and heartening picture…and not just for older workers.

Know how some people light up when they talk about their work? Nurse Ann Doshi of Atlantic Health System, who teaches new Operating Room nurses the intricacies of the O.R., definitely lights up. After you watch the clip below, you’ll probably agree that Ann would be able to illuminate an entire hospital if they happened to have a blackout.

Since they were named one of AARP’s 50 Best Employers for Workers 50 and Over, it’s not surprising to hear that people at Atlantic Health are big fans of seasoned workers. What’s more surprising? Hearing younger co-workers citing the benefits of being mentored by a long-timer and using terms like ‘innovative’ and ‘right on top of’ new equipment and trends. And although they have a higher than average number of older workers on the payroll – 38 percent – HR Manager Lesley Meyer points out that Atlantic Health’s own health-care costs actually declined a bit last year. 

Atlantic Health clearly values the contributions of all generations (they also made the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list). Take just a couple of minutes and watch Poppy Harlow’s inspiring segment Help Wanted: Older Workers Welcome for CNNMoney; you’ll find that some myths get busted on multiple fronts.

Seeing a company take so much pride in its older workers is a welcome change from the many stories we hear about valued employees being laid off and finding themselves unemployed for years- or about blatant age discrimination. Clearly, more older workers need to have a shot at becoming re-employed.

Unfortunately, seasoned and suitable candidates often don’t make it to the interview stage since many employers screen them out. Peter Cappelli, a Wharton School Management Professor, thinks these employers don’t know what they’re missing. He explains that employers often see higher overall job performance, broader knowledge and stronger interpersonal skills among more seasoned workers. There also tends to be lower turnover and absenteeism.

The good news is that many employers want things to change.* AARP has partnered with SHRM, the world’s leading membership organization for HR leaders, in an effort to help raise awareness among employers and combat age discrimination. Business owners, leaders, HR managers, workers — anyone who cares about this issue — should consider talking to someone in your HR department about the AARP-SHRM Workforce Assessment Tool.

Let’s hope that we see more stories about people like Ann Doshi, and that we hear fewer ones about older workers not getting in the door to interview. If you’ve been in the workforce for decades – especially if you had a close-knit community of colleagues and a workplace where you feel felt valued – you know firsthand that not having a job has emotional ripple effects that can often rival the financial ones.

AARP has information and resources to help older workers find jobs, whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time work (scroll below below for more links).

Here’s to more employers like Atlantic Health (they’re hiring, by the way) and to more job opportunities for older workers – and for all generations.

Readers, what do you think needs to happen to have more workplaces where all generations are valued? Comment below to weigh in.

Are you 50+ and looking for a job? Or considering becoming your own boss? Find free information and tools at www.aarp.org/work – including job-hunting resources, winners of AARP’s Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Awards, this list of employers who value older workers, and more.  

*Do you work for an employer who values older workers and wants to raise awareness in your workplace? Read about AARP’s partnership with SHRM in this article from AARP CEO A. Barry Rand and see the Workforce Assessment tool; also learn about our best employers awards program.  

Photo credit: LOVE cupcake courtesy of Weenee via Flickr Creative Commons.