Older employees missing out on training opportunities

Research shows older workers are experiencing an ongoing issue that not only affects them, but their employers too.

Older employees missing out on training opportunities
Research shows that mature-age workers are experiencing an ongoing issue that not only affects them, but the organizations they work for too.
The study – titled: ‘Engage me: the mature-age worker and stereotype threat’ – was published in the Academy of Management Journal and studied more than 600 people aged 45 and older working in three Australian cities, in a wide range of jobs and in many different kinds of organisations.
The report found that some mature-age workers experienced stereotype threat, which happens when this age group feels extra pressure to perform well, making work more stressful and a lot less fun.
Carol T. KulikSanjeewa PereraChristina Cregan – who led the study – pointed out that this is bad for a mature-age worker, but it’s bad for organisations too.
“Disengaged workers don’t perform to their full capability, and can cost an organisation 30% of their salary in lost productivity,” the authors said.
According to the study, mature-age workers experience the most stereotype threat in three situations; when they reported to young managers, when they were surrounded by young co-workers and when they worked in manual occupations.
But there is a solution.
The research found that two types of management practices reduce stereotype threat and increase engagement among mature-age workers.

High-performance practices  

These practices focus on training employees, rewarding them for good performance and encouraging them to participate in organisational decisions. This applies to any worker – young or old.

The specific focus 

The second type focuses specifically on mature-age workers; things like updating their skills, redesigning jobs to accommodate their physical needs, giving them opportunities to mentor other people, or allowing them to ease into retirement.
These age-specific practices send a clear signal to mature-age workers that the organisation cares about them and their age-specific needs. The two types of practices have independent effects, so the mature-age worker is going to be most engaged when their organisation offers both.
“Unfortunately, we found that organisations were more likely to offer the high-performance practices. They rarely offered the practices that focused directly on mature-age workers,” the authors pointed out.
“Eventually, they disengage and feel less involved and enthusiastic about their work.”

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