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July 31, 2017

Busting Myths About Veteran Workers

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The trouble with blanket statements is that they categorize people into inappropriate boxes.

Every time I read an article pronouncing the reasons why older workers are a good fit despite what the author thinks is a shortcoming, I wince. And I’ve winced quite a lot lately. Everything from the inability of older workers to concentrate to their perceived lack of energy are ideas that simply aren’t true.

There are some fairly common misconceptions in the job market that are causing people to overlook what could be their best employee. They’re just that, too – misconceptions. Here are the most common myths regarding the veteran workforce:

They’re not tech savvy. To the contrary, 67% of people aged 65+ use the internet, 34% use social media, and 42% own a smartphone, according to 2017 Pew Research. Veteran workers have been working with technology since their companies adopted it. They’ve been there for system upgrades and new technology introductions right alongside their younger colleagues.

They’re not as energetic as younger workers. Older workers have plenty of energy, and they have staying power. These veterans of the workforce have decades of experiences in tackling and completing projects, solving complex issues, and staying focused on the outcome.

They’re set in their ways. The veteran workers are quite open to change. In fact, many older workers have excellent leadership skills, which comes in part from their ability to communicate to various stakeholders and gain consensus.

They’re no longer invested in the job. The facts prove the opposite: a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) study over workers 50+ reveals that older workers show great job engagement than younger workers. Of employers surveyed, 71% say that older workers exhibit great professionalism, as well.

They won’t stick with the job. Actually, older workers are less likely to leave than younger workers. Unlike younger workers looking to move up the career ladder, veteran workers are where they want to be. They are incredibly focused on doing the work in front of them. A recent Pew Research survey shows that 54% of workers aged 65+ are working because they want to be.

They have little to contribute. That’s not how employers see it. The SHRM study reveals that 77% of employers believe older workers bring valuable skills and experience to the job, and that productivity within the ages of 50 to 65 increases and errors decrease.

Also, veteran workers are well-connected and have wide networks from which they can bring even more expertise and knowledge.

Veteran workers have plenty to offer companies willing to hire them. Today’s retiring or retired workers who are choosing to extend their careers beyond traditional retirement age are coming to the job with a willingness and commitment, along with a vast skill set. For companies savvy enough to recognize the deep value of their experience, older workers can be game changers and help companies evolve and grow.

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