Employers must get the fun side right for young and old

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.

Andrew Walker
HR consultant

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