Harnessing, Harvesting & Embracing Our Differences

“How organizations could be so quick to dismiss the work experience & wisdom coupled with the life experience the 50+ workforce brings is mind boggling to me. When I was in full time employ this was the generation that guided me when I fell, when my head got too big 😅, when I needed advice or guidance or a push towards bigger things… invaluable!” Rodney Frank

Let’s Harness, Harvest and Embrace our Differences in our Workplaces!

This is a call to action to all the readers of this article: please pass this on to someone in your organization who can make a difference in ensuring the 50+ employees still have a voice; that they are still relevant at 60+ and maybe even at 70+, if they want to be.

Neuroscience research has shown, unless we have a diseased brain, we are all capable of learning until the day we die. Our brains will develop new neural pathways and connections, as long as they are challenged to do so.

Companies are facing enormous issues with a continuing shortage of younger people entering the workforce. Next to that, they need to be able to manage a quickly ageing workforce. Most companies don’t even have this on their radar! The only research this author can find, which is continually stated and restated in online articles, on just how many companies have age as part of their DEI strategy, dates back to research done in 2015 by PwC.

At that time, of the 64% of companies which had a DEI strategy, only 8% of the programs incorporated age as a diversity factor. I wonder what this percentage is currently and whether no additional research is available is indicative of its relative importance. This while ageism is the one ‘ism’ we’re all going to face, if we’re lucky enough to reach an older age, unless we can reverse the stereotypical thinking that is so ubiquitous in our societies.

(HR) Leaders must see that the needs of this ageing workforce, up until now what I call ‘the forgotten child of DEI’, are equally important to any other DEI initiatives. Age diverse organizations score higher in engagement, innovation and productivity. Though I wonder how much psychological safety plays a part in this, as it does with diverse organizations, in general.

“Age is a number, not a credential. A person’s potential is not dependent on, nor should it be limited by, his or her age.… By removing the lens of age as a way to view existing or potential employees, we shift the focus to their abilities, skills, and knowledge.” Lori A. Trawinski, PhD, CFP® AARP Public Policy Institute

This quote is relevant whether an employee is younger or older. Ageism knows no boundaries. I’d like to add, that it is about capacity. Again, it’s NOTHING to do with a number!

The ‘four stage life’ needs to be embraced. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox wrote about this eloquently in a 2021 Forbes article. She calls these stages the 4 quarters of life from 0 – 100 years: Grow, Achieve, Become and Harvest. I feel the words, in and of themselves, are self-descriptive with little or no translation needed.

Let’s all work towards creating more inclusive and equitable environments that empower all individuals to thrive.

The Wize Move Society, which is part of Creating Waves Partner Network, has developed the Wize Moves @theWorkPlace program. This program supports both employer and employees to harvest, harness and embrace the intergenerational workforces for a sustainable future. Contact: info(at)wizemovesociety(dot)com