I have been actively working since I was 18 years old, and in those year, I have transitioned from the bright eyed newbie to sometimes the oldest worker for an organization. It is sometimes a diffiuclt transition, not the number of years you have been at an organization, but sometimes being one of the oldest employees at an organization. I sometimes get the feeling that companies are not always valuing the experience, wisdom, and focus, of an employee that is seasoned. I also have gathered, that as an older employees we, don’t always realized our own value, and the gift we bring to any company. I think sometimes companies may feel that our ideas are antiquated, that we may cost them more than we deliver, and I beg to differ.
First of all, as a seasoned employee, we have to know our own value. You have to be confident in all that you bring to the table for your company. You have skills, wisdom, ideas, that can be a benefit to any company. You have to have confidence in those skills. It is also crucial that we keep up to date in our skill sets, staying fresh by taking courses, attending workshops etc, in our areas of expertise, reading article, and keeping abreast of trends, and changes in our industries. Also, we need to be open to the idea of branching out and trying new things, and new ways of doing things. We also need to watch our attitudes, stay positive, be a team player, that is not afraid of change. Companies, are changing and looking for better ways to get the job done, and we need to stay open and be abreast of changes that are happening in your industry. Be willing to help, act as a mentor to younger employees, find ways to show your intrinsic value to the company that employs you. I am not suggesting that you change as a person, but it is critical that you be of value to your company and stay up to date in your industry. Even in the way you dress, and interact with your colleagues. Do you call yourself old, and are you still dressing like your in the 70’s. If so update your wardrobe, and don’t date your self physically or mentally. We are vibrant, and we are assets to any company that we serve. Interact, and connect with your younger coworkers, and younger friends and associates. These friendships can prove to be beneficial to your life. When you discuss and interact with younger people; you will find they have interesting views on life, career, and personal time. We may not always agree but it is great to exchange ideas.
Now lets look at employers, the bottom line is that ageism is against the law. Though companies are careful not to portray that they would discrimate against anyone because of age. There are often suttle ways that ageism creeps into companies. It is usually not the company as a whole, but individuals in the company that may feel that older employee just can’t produce the same as a younger employee. This is simply, is not true, older employee are aware, of how people feel about their age, and often go beyond what is expected of them to produce results for their company. As an older employee it is crucial for you to be results oriented, not to the point that you loose your people skills. However, to the point that you have a balance of producing results, and connecting and communicating with people well. We are here, and we are not going anywhere until we choose to retire. The employee, and the employer have to work together, to make sure the work place allows every individual to thrive, regardless of age. The best way to fight against ageism is to be a productive, contributing member of society until you choose to slow down and retire. The key here is that you don’t allow anyone to make that choice for you, you make the choice.
Lastly, as older people in the workplace, we cannot overlook the possibility of starting our own businesses,, transitioning from employee to employer ourselves. This way we can empower, and employ others, that may have some of the difficulties we have experienced. I believe, we as the aging employee have to define ourselves, break away from the stereotypes, be aware, and willing to educate others, on the value you can offer to any organization.