How do you define ‘fun’ for an older workforce? Your news story and opinion piece on the ‘ageist’ Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list (Personnel Today, 7 March) highlights the fact that the researchers assume that ‘fun’ has to involve physical exercise and alcohol.
As a 60-year-old in a young organisation, I have found that I consume the alcohol more responsibly. And both I and the younger team members just see my walking stick as another challenge to be overcome as part of the fun.
The company management of one firm, however, does have a problem with me. I have another source of income, so I am not motivated by money. On the other hand, while I have been off sick for three days in the past five years, I last threw a sickie on 10 November 1959. I am unlikely to take paternity leave and my wife is unlikely to take maternity leave.
So getting the best out of me – which is a different potential from my younger colleagues – presents the managers with non-standard motivational requirements.
And that frightens them.
I think a critical factor in overcoming ageism lies in training younger managers to overcome their fear of older, and therefore by definition, more experienced staff.