For some nations this is without question a violation of law and for others its an unwritten reality masked by smartly crafted employment criteria.  The fact is there are ways to avoid the onslaught of white haired seniors and to keep them from providing a value contribution to business and society.  It is quite ironic that when it comes to gainful employment that this resource is overlooked, while it is sought after if involves a volunteer role.

Up until the 1990s senior members of organizations were a prized and valued asset.  They weren’t looked upon as over-the-hill, a soon to retire dead wood or even a non-contributor.  What they were viewed as was a invested asset, one in which experience and skills became a tool and not a liability.  A changing of the guard and the search for greater profits put seniors in the cross hairs of business downsizing.  After all, they had earned a wage that was superior to the juniors and with each passing moment the cost of retirement and medical were rapidly becoming a concern.  To avoid these costs, the value elements was cast aside in favor of a pure money savings viewpoint.  In order to easy minds further the senior became a token, used to legitimize the need for earnings for growing families and up and coming talent.

Wise is this SO Wrong?

In business one has to constantly look at cost, and for public companies this is further stressed by the earning demands of shareholders.  We see the recognition of people giving way to such sterile titles as human resource and human capital.  This all to the credit of creativity but unfortunately ignoring that this commodity is in fact dealing with humans.  The fall out, which I prefer to call rubble, is a loss of self-esteem and a sense of having no purpose.  Those fortunate to harvest a nice retirement nest egg could move on, even if they weren’t ready.  But by-and-large most that were put out to pasture we not ready, and it damaged people (possibly your parents or elder relatives).  In desperation they sought purpose but faced a massive challenge to find anything close to what they had.  Relegated to low wage jobs they pushed forward.  What you see is a strong work ethic and commitment despite the devastating loss of self-esteem.  You would hear people further justify their role as ‘having nothing better to do’ or ‘they only need to earn a little to subsidize their retirement’.

The removal of the senior workforce created a much larger problem and that being the transitioning of work.  Many if not all downsizing efforts resulted in retrenchment of staff into roles that were either not in their skill area or simply they weren’t ready.  Masked by titles and faux responsibilities the train left the station.  The successes were far and few between, we see the advent of formal CSM (Customer Service Management) come into being as a result of these changes.  Further hidden from view was the masking of this problem in the form of further downsizing efforts where by the failures could be simply hidden within.  This misplace souls, along with the previous senior community saw a blooming of independent business occur.  Many in the form of consultancies and unfortunately a deterioration of quality service delivery from these temporary enterprises.  Many consultancies became a stop over in unemployment that permitted chances to seek permanency via consulting engagements.

What to DO?

Unless you are in the top 10% of those looking for a C-Level or Board position your chance of employment remains a challenge.  I worry when I see people 10 or 20 years my junior jumping positions for reasons that may or may not be under their control.  My concerns is that verbalized legitimacy is not a pretense for value based selling, its simply an excuse that helps you contend with the real reasons.  As a senior still ready-willing-able truthful examine yourself.  Most are unable to do this objectively and therefore you need to be coached as to what image you have.  Secondly, you need to show present aptitude and ability.  Seniors ARE NOT easy to manage.  Why?   Experience while valuable also poses a challenge to ideas and missions that may have flaws.  The value of experience is also a challenge (almost always in a positive way but for those in control it is often viewed as an affront on authority).  Likewise, is the challenge of socialization in terms of fitting in.  In my early business career fitting is was more about getting along and not about whether someone was older or different than us. Today socialization has become a matter of like kind and not ‘right kind’.  This situation disrupts elements of a company and creates more often than not negativism that becomes legitimized based on age and not the attitude that makes age as the convenient excuse.

Is There Remaining Value?

This is a questions that management companies need to ask.  I would also submit that this abundant resource should not be used for the mainstream day-to-day operational elements but as a knowledge pool that helps to support both operational and future reaching ambitions.  The span of time, creating experience, helps to see ahead without lingering on the past.  Looking ahead embraces innovative thinking at the C-Levels in business which up to now has very little support network to legitimize and test the possibilities that are contrived.    This knowledge pool can be deployed on one of two ways.  The first utilizing a hand selected consultancy pool but organized under a single point of leadership (either within or external to the company).  The second way is to form a group whereby experience and skill requirements are the criteria.  In this last form the company can entertain those with exceptional values even if they aren’t seniors in the context of age.

Conclusion

One should not view age as the factor but rather the loss of value and the pressing present need for correction that only can be achieved through the test of time which creates experience.  There is remaining work that needs to be done to overcome skill and aptitude gaps caused by the rash financially based staffing decisions that have been made.

I stated a few days ago in a social post that “if you stay in your profession long enough you will see a recurrence of discussions and battles from past times”.   Most rational thinkers would prefer a veteran from a prior war than a fresh enlistment who hasn’t seen the pressures of combat.  Its time to rethink the resources and the needs that our companies exist and stop searching for something that may or may not even exist.

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