WORK

More of us are working beyond the years of retirement, either out of necessity or by choice.

Generally, as an aging population, we are healthier in our 60s and 70s than ever before. More of us want to stay engaged and can do so. Working longer can increase our nest eggs and Social Security and give us a sense of purpose. While the trends are to work beyond 65 and to return to work from retirement, ageism is still prevalent both at work and getting work.

The Harvard Business Review cites scientific evidence that contradicts the popular assumption of “youth trumps age” for better job performance. The researchers wrote, “For most people, raw mental horsepower declines after the age of 30, but knowledge and expertise—the main predictors of job performance—keep increasing even beyond the age of 80.” The study also finds that cognitive diversity increases teamwork and creativity.

The movie The Intern with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway is about a 70-year-old widower returning to work as an intern for a young internet-based company founded and run by its young entrepreneur. At first, the obvious ageism is present until the young people warm up to the old guy. And the old guy soon becomes indispensable in saving the owner from jeopardizing her business and marriage. The point is the intern becomes mentor. Mentoring and interning can be a path forward to a sometimes contentious relationship between generations.

 

This space explores the current workplace climate for older people and the factors that influence our decisions to stay or leave. The desires to feel more challenged, more creative, more fulfilled, and/or more in charge of our future aren’t exclusive to older workers but, given our age and experience, we may be in a better position to act on those feelings.

The Longevity Project at Stanford University presents the video: “Older Workers and the Lessons of the Pandemic.” The panel discusses the difficulty in finding work as we age and the repurcussions. One panel member, 63-year old Ray Suarez,  a well-known journalist with PBS Newshour among his credits, explains his experience looking for work after a storied career. You can read his story in The Washington Post.

RESOURCES

Groups / Organizations
Books

Women’s Work: Stories from Pioneering Women Shaping our Workforce,
— Chris Crimson, 2020, Simon & Schuster  

Waiting on Retirement: Aging and Economic Insecurity in Low-Wage Work, — Mary Gatta, 2018, Stanford University Press 

Aging, Work, and Retirement,
— Elizabeth F. Fideler, 2020, Rowman & LIttlefield Publishers