The Value of Including Older Tech Workers
As the Tech Sage Age finding shows, companies are missing out if they don’t consider the age composition of specific teams, departments, and business units and how managers can build diversity and take advantage of the maturity and experience of older workers.
Legal issues aside, designing a recruitment strategy around younger generations can be shortsighted from a business perspective. Older workers tend to be more loyal, and an over-representation of millennials in the workforce can impact retention. A 2016 Gallup report reveals that “21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.” 
A workforce of job-hoppers can have a big impact on the bottom line. As HR expert Josh Bersin writes in this post, “The total cost of losing an employee can range from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5 – 2 X annual salary.”
Studies have also found that diverse teams are more innovative, which is critical in an era when competitive threats loom large. Hiring people “who do not look, talk, or think like you, can allow you to dodge the costly pitfalls of conformity, which discourages innovative thinking,” write the experts in this HBR post.
What Businesses Can Do?
There are some important activities you can do to root out the risk of ageism in your workforce and ensure you acquire, develop, and retain the best and brightest talent available, regardless of age:
● Review your workforce data to understand the current state of age equity within your organization to find any signs of potential bias in hiring, promotions, salary levels, turnover, and performance ratings. If you work in People Analytics, you can play a role in warning of incipient ageism in your organization and support your own organization to outperform your competition. You can uncover and root out intentional and unintentional bias in your hiring practices that might be limiting the Gen X and older workers or potential hires.
● Set objectives and develop a plan with manageable steps (and a way to monitor your progress) that helps your organization achieve an inclusive work environment.
● Keep in mind that, as with ethnic and gender equity, age equity is a cultural issue — if pockets of ageism exist within your organization, you will need to devise plans to address them not only via better HR practice and policy rollouts, but through culture change.
● Consider implementing a version of the Rooney Rule for age, specifically for teams or roles where the workforce is less diverse in age: for every position you have open to fill, consider one or more older candidates (or candidates that will help create a more diverse team, in general).
● Develop hiring practices that reduce the potential for intentional or unintentional bias in the screening out of older applicants.
● Develop hiring practices that specifically do not screen out candidates based on the length of their unemployment — while this report focused on systemic ageism, many individual stories suggest older unemployed workers struggle to get hired, and studies indicate recruiters screen out candidates that have been unemployed for longer periods of time.
The Bottom Line – Attitude, Passion, and People Analytics Successfully Combat Ageism
What can you do? For individuals, it’s about maintaining self-confidence in your competence and passion for your activities. If you don’t love your job, perhaps you should consider another. But if you do, show it, and, if I’m any indication, you can continue to work for as long as you want.
For organizations, if you have not already deployed people analytics, the capabilities will help you identify if ageism exists today or will in the future. And you can assess where in your hiring, developing, and retention of your talent you need to improve to maintain your competitive advantages into the future.
What one organization is doing about ageism
 How Millennials Want to Work and Live, Gallup, May, 2016. http://news.gallup.com/reports/189830/e.aspx?utm_source=gbj&utm_medium=copy&utm_campaign=20160512-gbj
 Employee Retention Now a Big Issue: Why the Tide has Turned, Josh Bersin, August, 2013, LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130816200159-131079-employee-retention-now-a-big-issue-why-the-tide-has-turned/
 Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter, David Rock and Heidi Grant, Harvard Business Review, November, 2016. https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter