Ageism In The Workplace: A Problem? By Bob Lowry


Ageism In The Workplace: A Problem? by Bob Lowry

The interest in having a happy retirement is pretty much universal. While the bulk of my readership comes from America, Australia supplies a healthy percentage of Satisfying Retirement readers. Maybe that is why I was contacted not long ago by a fellow from that country who wanted to share some interesting survey results with me.

David Schneider pointed me to the results of an ageism research project that shows real and pervasive discrimination against Baby Boomers trying to reenter the work place. While I have no comparable study for the U.S. or other countries, I assume there is a similar problem in any developed country.

A few of the results of the study include these sobering findings:

* More than one in three people over-50 (35%) have no choice but to apply for new work or embark upon a career change later in life – half of them because they need the money. So, factoring in what we know about Western culture and its tendency to marginalise those who are no longer in the rosy-cheeked flush of youth, this statistic is all the more of a concern. Why? Because, even at a glance, the results of our survey over whether ageism is a factor in attempting to re-enter the workplace are quite disheartening.

* Perceived or otherwise, nearly half of all Baby Boomers surveyed (47%) feel age discrimination is behind why they may have been rejected for employment. Not only that, but over a third (36%) talked themselves out of even applying for certain roles because they believed they wouldn’t even be in the running. 

* 60% of those surveyed admitted re-employment required overcoming certain obstacles – and in fact, over a quarter (27%) described those barriers as “significant”. 

* Even once Baby Boomers do score that elusive gig, the ageism doesn’t necessarily end there. Nearly a third (30%) report experiencing discrimination over their age while at work. The reasons most cited for this age discrimination is that Baby Boomers are seen as either overqualified (45%), they somehow lack the right “company fit” (30%) or that they aren’t tech-savvy enough (24%). 

The full summary report is located here: Ageism in the Workplace

And, here is an excellent graphic representation of the problem older folks face when trying to re-enter the work force:

Why give you this information? Because there a lot of us who are considering going back to work. Others don’t leave in the first place because of the fear of being unable to reenter the job market for the reasons cited in this report.

If you are about to start your satisfying retirement journey, go into things with your eyes wide open. If you believe you can always go back to work if your financial situation weakens, realize that may more difficult than you anticipate.

I am a major advocate of retirement. But, I do caution everyone to be comfortable with where you are financially. If part of your planning includes a simple step back into the full time employment world, that may be wishful thinking.

My thanks to David, and the company Webprofits for this report. Satisfying Retirement has received no compensation from any of the sources of this post.

By Bob Lowry

2 responses to “Ageism In The Workplace: A Problem? By Bob Lowry

  1. This is all so true. I just had a discussion with my son about this a few days ago. His work history is in software sales for some very well known international companies. A few years back, he really wanted to get into the clinical research field. He couldn’t get hired for a sales position until he had experience in that kind of business, so he began as a proposal writer. He’s been trying to move up into sales, but has been unable to make that breakthrough. His company offered him a trainee position that would take 18 months. He’s so over-qualified to be a trainee. I told him he needed to recognize that as a 50 year old, he was facing age discrimination. The people they are putting into these trainee positions are all in their 20s and 30s. It is a reality that smacks us square in the face when we finally realize what is happening. It happened to me as well.

  2. I agree 100%. In fact I have had two interviews where they even said I was too old for the job and also indicated I had too much education and experience. So I scaled down my expectations to minimum wage jobs. I am even happy to be a dishwasher. I just wanted to connect to the working world and not climb a corporate ladder again. Also groceries and inflation are slowly eating away my pension. I am in my late 50s and when I do get interviews I can sense the disdain and attitude that I am just too old to be able to keep up. It is a sad eye opener and I feel they are passing up on a good employee that is still physically fit and would give 100% while enjoying the opportunity to work at any job. A very sad reflection of societies viewpoint. Our age group+ has so much to offer. I am also sick of hearing that the boomers have it so good, are wealthy and have wrecked the future for the younger generations.

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