Some stereotypes depict that older workers exhibit more memory lapses or are resigned to handle less-demanding jobs. But research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin shows that overall fluctuation in cognitive performance is lower in older adults compared to younger adults.
The psychologists heading the cognitive function and work research tested 200 adults in the 20-31 age group and the 65-80 age group on different tasks including working memory and perceptual speed. The seniors proved more consistent in solving tasks and maintaining higher productivity, which the researchers attributed to years of learned strategies, higher motivation and a steady mood.
As the world’s labor force ages, the Max Planck Institute team concludes that older people do show significant potential in day-to-day jobs and should not be automatically replaced when they reach retirement age. Many seniors like to get out the door each day and contribute at jobs they like. Older adults often bring a set of well-honed skills to the workplace including:
Experienced problem solving.
Finessed communication and diplomacy.
A balanced approach to prioritizing and meeting deadlines.
Instead of working full time, many seniors desire part-time or contract work, which employers often prefer because they don’t have to pay benefits. The following are top professions for older workers, particularly suitable to part-time hours:
Home healthcare worker
Dietician and nutritionist
Government worker—park guide, visitor center assistant, maintenance, etc.
After years of service, many work-savvy seniors are less focused on money and career advancement, unlike many younger employees, and are more content to remain actively engaged, productive and reliable.
What have you observed about older employees in the workplace?