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Boomers to Bust Age Bias?

(November 22, 2006)

Boomers to Bust Age Bias?
- A RetirementJobs.com & interbiznet White Paper

Summary of Key Findings
This comprehensive examination of age bias in U.S. employers considered extensive current literature and research as well as patterns of government, employer and advocacy group behavior. The pace and scope of change related to retirement and employment of workers age 50+ is accelerating. Concepts and terms that did not exist or were seldom heard have become prevalent - "age friendly employer", "retirement jobs", "seniors the solution to labor shortage" and so on. The major findings of the white paper reflect the onset of a major and growing trend about the importance of the age 50+ workers in the labor market and the competitive opportunities available to employers who recognize their value.

Emerging Age Friendly Employer Pattern - There is a clear emergence of age friendly employers. Borne of necessity or conscience, these "early adopting" employers are actively recruiting and retaining older workers. AARP has its well-established Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Program; Retirementjobs.com has its Age Friendly Employer Certification Program, and other older worker employer and advocacy groups are appearing in the U.S. and overseas.

Age Bias Requires Conclusive Study - There is substantial disagreement about the significance, even existence, of age bias. Opinions and anecdotal information abound. Many reliable and responsible sources believe that age bias, often in most subtle forms, is actually growing. Negative stereotypes of people over 50 are widespread and deeply imbedded in our culture. Employee opinion surveys indicating that 65% to 70% of older workers experience damaging bias are contradicted by employer claims of age 50+ worker misperception and exaggeration. We challenge the academic, government, public interest and employer communities to objectively study the issue of age bias and utilization of workers age 50+. We need a definitive and shared understanding of age bias, and plans for corrective action, if current beliefs and perceptions are validated.

Positive Support of Age 50+ Workers - There is a clear and growing body of information and evidence supporting the value and cost effectiveness of workers age 50 and older. Articles, speeches, enlightened employers, advocacy groups, consultants and academics are beating the drum of older worker capabilities and virtues. No less than the AARP has become the most outspoken voice and organizer for age 50+ worker rights and interests. The 76 million baby boomers will become a powerful force with this support.

Making a Law Alone Doesn't Change Behavior - After almost 40 years, federal and state age bias statutes should have dramatically reduced age bias and discrimination - in reality and perception. Regrettably, deeply imbedded stereotypes, cultural norms, employment laws, and existing human resource and management policy have sustained age bias. Overcoming age bias must start with the commitment of employer senior leadership, government and public interest groups.

The "Tipping Point" - Considering the expected massive retirement of baby boomers, impending labor shortages and economic and social conditions compelling age 50+ workers to "stay on the job", the long-predicted "tipping point" has arrived in key sectors of the labor market including healthcare, public education and the sciences, and is fast approaching in many others. Age bias stereotypes and employment obstacles must begin to crumble in order to attract and retain increasing numbers of workers over age 50. Recruiters, employers, executives and HR managers will be scrambling to get this high value, productive labor pool "on the payroll."

Download the Whitepaper.

Have a wonderful Holiday.

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