New study shows older workers more loyal, better collaborators

Kerry Hannon (not pictured), the AARP?Jobs Expert advises older workers that “they need to be in business for themselves, even if they’re working for someone else.”

Perhaps the most comprehensive study on employees 45 years of age and older will be released Friday, and the findings will likely provide a boost of confidence to older workers.

“Mid and Late Life Career Issues: An Integrative Perspective” is authored by researchers from the University of Florida, the University of La Verne and Cal State-San Bernardino. It contains a bounty of new quantitative data, with first-hand employee interviews and a thorough analysis of existing research.

The study suggests that older workers tend to be better collaborators than their younger counterparts. Moreover, they typically handle negative workplace emotions in a more constructive way.

“This is the kind of message that needs to get out!” declares Kerry Hannon, the author of “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+,” and the AARP Jobs Expert. “People get so twisted around about hiring older workers.” she continues.

“With experience, we [older workers] have gone through a lot of different cycles in the economy. So, when something happens like a layoff, we’re a lot more adaptable. We won’t get thrown off the porch.”

Lead researcher Dr. Mo Wang stresses that little serious research exists on this subject, and that most of their findings are simply suggestions for further investigation. But when it comes to performance evaluations, he sees pervasive distinctions between old and young employees, and these results may not feel so flattering to the more mature.

“Older workers want to maintain a positive standing in their supervisor’s eyes, while younger workers mainly focus on learning from the feedback,” says Wang. “It seems to be the emotional experience that older people are more focused on. They value the relationship. Younger workers value the knowledge.”

Myth busting

A critical take-away from the new study, “Mid and Late Life Career Issues”: researchers found no substance to the widespread claim that older workers are harder to train for new positions, jobs and tasks.


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