Was the “great resignation” real? That was the question posed by Lauren Young, Digital Special Projects Editor for Reuters. Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP, said it was more of a great reflection that happened while everyone was at home during COVID-19. Many people took early retirement but now about 50% of retirees want to come back to work. With an extra 20-30 years of lifespan, we need to figure out how to harness the power of multiple generations to let older workers thrive.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts should include age, continued Jenkins. There is great value in older workers who can help bring culture and responsibility to the workplace. Younger workers who may have been working at home over the pandemic can benefit from older mentors who can teach them the value of soft skills. Young noted that there is also a business benefit to having employees who look like your customers. Jenkins agreed, pointing out that 56 cents of every dollar spent in the U.S. is by someone over 50 years old.
Turning to the subject of age discrimination, Jenkins said that 70% of older workers polled have experienced some age discrimination in the hiring process. Companies need to be mindful of the way their algorithms sort resumes to help avoid this. Age should not define a person’s worth, Jenkins reminded the audience. Value lies in the person, not the age.
“One of the most important things we want to see happen is more companies including age in their DE&I to create workforces that better reflect the consumers they are trying to serve.”
Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO, AARP
“There’s been so much research about the performance and how well companies do when they are diverse.”
Lauren Young, Digital Special Projects Editor, Reuters