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All too often I here people aged in their 50’s upwards finding it difficult to find work. This is a generation that grew up thinking that if you worked hard you would have a job for life. Not so true in today’s world. They valued job security. Then economic conditions changed and they found themselves without that job they had worked at and were experts in. As a result they’ve had to reinvent themselves in order to survive and hitting more than a few hurdles. On interviewing those that are responsible for hiring staff I have found the most common reasons that they don’t hire these staff and they are really no surprise but the decision lacks definite vision. Lets look at what these reasons are.
1) They want too much money. Boomers come from a time where you expect to get paid for your experience and knowledge. They grew up being told if you worked hard you would be successful and working hard meant learning the in’s and out’s of your job and gaining experience. A job was something that you expected to keep for life and the more experience you had the more you would get paid. The world has changed from the world that they grew up in and while they still hold this belief most would be happy to take anything that helps to sustain their lifestyle even if it takes a little time getting used to.
2) They want to tell you how you should be doing things. Boomers have a wealth of experience and often would have seen the effects of poor judgement in the past and have no wish to see that happen again. This is often seen as an annoyance but really it’s the start of process improvement or “innovation” which is really just a way of making things better. The past knowledge you get from a boomer can only add to much better innovation.
3) They are vocal when given tasks to perform. This is a generation that fought long and hard for standard working conditions that most generations that follow take for granted. Some benefit would come from asking them what working life was like for them when they first entered the workforce. Bullying, discrimination and harassment were commonplace and they fought to have laws put in that stopped employers from conducting business in this way and if they feel that they are being treated poorly they will let you know. They have witnessed some horror stories which they do not want to see repeated
4) They don’t fit in with the culture. This is the current excuse that is consistently used for not hiring boomers. In any great culture in the world it consists of the young being developed, the middle aged starting to develop the young and the elders helping the middle aged develop the young. In a lot of western cultures there seems to have been a breakdown between the generations. Workplace culture is no different to this. Any workplace that does not have a culture that includes young and old alike is missing a vital link in the chain one that can only enhance the workplace and society as a whole.
While many boomers would love to be in a position where they did not need to work circumstances do not always allow this. Many still have children or grandchildren that they still support. When boomers started working few people had superannuation and this only become compulsory later in their lives so savings are limited.
All of these reasons are, I believe, a result of those decision makers responsible for hiring not having the vision to see the benefits that each generation brings to the table. All of the above may well be true however this is part of being part of a community where you have all ages. Each has benefits and add value but vision, understanding and exceptional communication are needed.