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This post is part of a series on creating the kind of high-performance workplace that attracts and engages the passions of high-performing employees. While my last post focused on millennials, today I’m commenting on the often-overlooked assets of seasoned employees.
If I enjoy working, why should I ever retire?
Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review reported older workers are being forced out of the workplace. Silicon Valley, long the birthplace of innovation, is becoming known for turning against experienced workers. In fact, age discrimination there can start before workers have even turned 30.
Yet, Bloomberg reported that many Americans are choosing to forego retirement and remain in the workforce. In fact, the U.S. has the largest number of workers ever. With the U.S. Social Security system raising the retirement age to receive full benefits over the next few years, we can expect this trend to grow.
There are good reasons to keep working, beyond the question of benefits: Work allows you to stay involved, keeps you learning, and some workers are starting to think that maybe retirement (a relatively new idea) isn’t as attractive as it once was.
There is fierce competition for talent (previously, I wrote this is so common it’s become a cliché). With talent in high demand, companies can’t afford to exclude workers because of their age – young or old – and miss out on a significant pool of talent.
Competitive global businesses need diverse, multicultural and multigenerational talent, because different points of view bring energy and insights that one homogenous group could never see or uncover.
The journey that we call a career gives us the privilege to keep learning, to be exposed constantly to the new. This should be a joy, not something to fear.
Reverse Mentoring Benefits Younger and Seasoned Employees
Recently, I enjoyed reading the NYTimes recent articlesWhat Could I Possibly Learn From a Mentor Half My Age? nd In a Reverse Mentorship, Seeing Age Through a New Lens. In those stories, a seasoned journalist learned how to use SnapChat from her millennial counterpart.
Reading perspectives of mentor and mentee is enlightening, and I believe strongly that companies could learn from both experiences. According to the first article, companies such as Cisco Systems, Target and United Healthcare are increasingly creating reverse mentorship programs, presumably because they see the value in having multigenerational teams. This makes them more attractive for both recruiting and retention of all ages.
Today’s stories show that even if you’re an expert at something, you’re not an expert in everything. It’s a sign of strength to show a willingness to learn, to admit to mistakes, and to learn and move on. When I receive a new smartphone or a new piece of software, I know I am the one that asks the most questions.
This is all to say that you could look at age discrimination as an issue of diversity and inclusion. Companies that create an environment where everyone is included and everyone is involved will be those that attract the talent. Therefore, it would be in our best interest to create mentoring programs that go both ways by matching mentees of all ages with mentors who know that they want to learn.
Let me know what you think? What have you learned from your mentor? Was he or she older or younger than you? What do you wish you could learn from a mentor? Please leave a comment and let me know.