What are the barriers older workers face?

It is becoming more complicated for older workers to flourish in the workplace due to serious challenges that should be resolved. The key problems include age discrimination, insufficient training opportunities, working while managing health, combining the performance of official duties, and financial planning for retirement.

Aging employees think that their physical health, cognitive state, and understanding of new technologies are barriers to their continued engagement in the workplace[1]

The reduction in performance is another challenge. It is frequently attributed to skill obsolescence, and often older workers receive less incentive from their mainly younger managers to participate in training to upgrade their skills and competencies. This tendency can also be explained by the difficulty in adopting new technical and digital skills. Therefore, older workers have limited access to training[2]. Furthermore, some older persons have difficulty adapting to change and have a hard time letting go of their old habits and ideals, which are generally deemed outdated.

One of the most important problems is age discrimination or ageism. It entails evaluating a potential employee or candidate less favorably due to his or her age. Even if the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits ageism against people aged 40 and older, cases of discrimination still occur in the workplace. It can lead to the more poorly performance of cognitive and physical activities by older people who are exposed to negative age stereotypes, according to research by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ageism has taken on a new meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers of all ages have been compelled to adapt to new technologies in order to connect with coworkers as a result of remote and virtual work, and younger employees are typically perceived to be more tech-savvy. There was a possible risk that employers would discriminate against older employees who they felt lacked technical knowledge. Thus, there were difficulties with adapting to a new type of work. However, some studies showed that older workers were adapting to remote work better than younger workers.

Nevertheless, creating an age-friendly workplace is a must. Providing ongoing skills training, improving working conditions, and providing a flexible work environment, including promoting teleworking, could encourage older workers to stay in the workforce.

[1] Nagarajan, N. R., Wada, M., Fang, M. L., Sixsmith, A. (2019). Defining organizational contributions to sustaining an ageing workforce: a bibliometric review. European Journal of Ageing.

[2] Ravichandran, S., Cichy, K. E., Powers, M., & Kirby, K. (2015). Exploring the training needs of older workers in the foodservice industry. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 44, 157–164.