In an era where age discrimination can be rampant, there continues to be more data on the other side of the coin supporting the values of “more experienced” talent in the workforce. We have to say more experienced because using any words related to age (at least in the human resources and recruiting arenas) is illegal as age is a “protected class”. Yet, more and more studies, articles and credence is given to that vast amount of intellectual property (not to mention maturity) in those workers that have some years under their belts.
One recent study looking at the functionality of high-tech, engineering, and infrastructure executives was conducted by the University of Haifa, Israel. The big news? In terms of vitality, “advancing age plays a significant role” according to Dr. Shmuel Grimland, Prof. Yehuda Baruch, and Prof. Eran Vigoda-Gadot, who ran the study.
What is vitality?
noun, plural: vi·tal·i·ties
1. exuberant physical strength or mental vigor: a person of greatvitality.
2. capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningfulor purposeful existence: the vitality of an institution.
3. power to live or grow: the vitality of a language.
4. vital force or principle.
In the professional workforce this would be defined as the ability to carry out tasks with passion, vigor, and competence, and to gain satisfaction from his or her work performance. The study looked at 545 public and private sector management workers at all levels (project managers through senior company managers) from areas like high-tech, engineering, and infrastructure.
Basically, the study found that the older managers in their 50s have more professional vitality. For many, after turning 50 marks a time in their lives that they accomplish much more from a sense of confidence and comfort, and relying on personal knowledge versus outside resources.
While in many cases older workers are only seen as the opposite of young workers – a difficult comparison in a youth conscious-driven society. Many older job hunters state that they are getting overlooked based on their age in preference of the younger, faster models.
The University of Haifa study goes on to say that vitality is also tied to career and life satisfaction. With workers that have a greater level of vitality, the more steady they are on the job – and consider leaving their place of work less frequently.
For many reasons, older workers are coming back into the workplace in record numbers – call them “second lifers” or those looking for an “encore career”. These numbers are the highest in 50 years – although some of that can be attributed to the fact that this is the largest group of retired seniors in 50 years as well. they may be eligible for retirement, but they are living longer and feel as productive as ever. With the impact of the recession and housing market collapse – more will continue to NEED to work to support themselves in their “retirement”.
Bottom line? Recruiters and talent managers should not overlook the 50+ experienced workforce – because they are still full of vitality and an immense amount of intellectual property in their heads that is becoming more and more scarce.