According to Statista, the median age of the global labor force in 2020 was 39. However, at Silicon Valley companies, the median employee is more likely to be 31 (Apple), 30 (Google, Tesla), 29 (Facebook, Linkedin), or younger, according to employee data site PayScale.

There are signs that the COVID-19 pandemic is having an especially negative effect on older workers, who are often perceived as inflexible and unable to quickly adapt to fast-moving work environments — or demand significantly higher pay and can be replaced without issue by lower-priced younger workers. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower found that the Q3 2020 unemployment rate among residents - Singaporeans and permanent residents - aged between 40 and 59 was higher and rose more steeply than other age groups.  According to The ASEAN Post, Singapore data from 2019 found that six months after being laid off, 76% of those in their 30s found another job, compared to 66% of workers in their 40s and only 52% percent of those in their 50s.

The median age of the workforce is likely to continue to fall in the coming years. Despite increased efforts for unconscious bias during the recruiting process, age discrimination is a prevalent issue in today’s workplace. One study published in June 2020 by Randstad Singapore found that 31% of young respondents actively choose to avoid any interaction with mature workers.  Even if you’re currently young, energetic and tech-savvy; one day, you might face the same discrimination -- and ultimately be replaced by a younger employee.

So, why would you hire a 45-, 55- or 65-year old candidate when a 25- or 35- job seeker is available?

The following are some benefits older workers can offer:

  1. Create a more diverse workplace. Having a range of age groups in your workplace will allow each age group to benefit -- younger employees can be mentored to increase their knowledge and experience, while the more mature workers can pick up new skill sets from the younger employees. Having a diverse range of age groups will help to increase productivity, unlock potential and improve working styles to drive business growth in your company.
  2. Build your corporate resiliency. While it is good to bring in highly-talented individuals with up-to-date skill sets and knowledge, it is equally important to balance that with experience. Having a spectrum of ages represented at the company -- just like having an inclusive approach to gender and ethnicity -- is another way of ensuring that there is a diversity of perspectives available when tackling complex and challenging business scenarios. Diverse teams yield better decisions, and including age as a diversity component lays the foundation for an organisation prepared to navigate through difficult periods, according to a study by The Age Diversity Forum.
  3. Improve your retention rates. Younger employees are more likely to job hop. A recent Gallup report on the younger generation revealed that 60% of millennials say they are open to a different job opportunity. Unlike their younger counterparts, mature employees are less likely to be enticed by the opportunity to explore a new challenge and take on another job offer. Hiring more mature workers can help you boost your retention rates, reduce hiring costs, and in the long term, even help to maintain the culture and spirit of the workplace.

These are just some of the benefits of hiring mature workers. Against the backdrop of an aging global population and remote workers coming to terms with the organizational and cultural impacts of COVID-19, the need to address the issue of ageism is of utmost importance.

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