The high-tech industry is mostly for younger people — it can be highly stressful since it requires that you be on your toes, learning new technologies so that you can escape the undesirable label of being a tech “dinosaur”.
But during my career as a software engineer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a few older people — those who are over the age of 60 as I recall, who have surprised me with their work ethic. I also mentioned in an earlier article that one of my older co-workers in his mid-60’s passed away rather unexpectedly late last year, causing me to reevaluate my priorities in life and work. I consider that event as one of those triggering my decision to “retire from corporate serfdom” in order to take control of my own work destiny. I ended up quitting my job.
I had only but admiration for my erstwhile colleague, as he was someone who took his job seriously and who thoroughly enjoyed what he was doing; I was impressed by his quality of work, productivity and dedication — the degree of which you’d be hard-pressed to find in many corporate offices.
Nevertheless, there are many more folks like him who plan to work way past their retirement age or who don’t intend to ever retire. It’s actually been reported that up to 68% of employees between the ages of 50 and 70 are in this boat.
You’re A Boomer, Why Continue To Work?
Why are older people still working? These are the people who either never stop working or decide to return to work after a respite of some length of time. There are various reasons:
Money is the most important reason.
The dot com bust has affected a lot of portfolios and can be blamed for causing a lot of older people to return to the workforce. The simple fact is that many people haven’t saved enough for their retirement or their investment portfolios were adversely affected by recent market activity. Not only that — people are living longer, so it’s tougher to accumulate assets that are deemed sufficient to cover the expenses incurred throughout longer lifetimes.
The higher cost of medical care is a concern.
Clearly, with increases in health care costs, there’s a stronger need for people to seek and maintain good medical coverage. I know a lot of people who work mainly for the health care benefits.
People want to feel productive and mentally active.
A lot of baby boomers remain employed or return to the workforce because they want to “have a reason to get up in the morning”. How many people have you heard of who become depressed as soon as they retire? A lot of workers love the routine of their job, the social interaction at work and the sense of fulfillment they get as contributors to a company’s cause.
Workplace Benefits For Older Workers Are Sweet!
Sure, we can’t deny that there’s some age discrimination at play especially when younger managers are doing the hiring. And frankly, there are just jobs that are not a good fit for senior citizens (though there are exceptions, certainly). However, many industries are experiencing labor shortages and have worked to fill their workforce with older people (just as they did with women way back when). In fact, many companies are doing things to encourage boomers to join their ranks. Just as employment perks have evolved to incorporate maternity leave and child care benefits to accommodate female workers, we are now seeing some changes in our work environment, brought about to address the requirements of older workers:
- flexible schedules
- shorter weeks and fewer hours
- job sharing
- retirement counseling for eligible workers
- phased retirement to help workers ease their way into retirement
- improved training for workers over 50
- special mentorship and pairing of older people with younger employees
- the addition of physical workplace accommodations (not unlike those for the disabled)
And there’s a lot to be said for older employees — they’re experienced and loyal, and their expertise is particularly valued in certain jobs. From CNN Money, this list of top jobs for those over 50 had some spot-on suggestions:
Top Jobs For The Over 50 Crowd
|Job Description||Median Pay||Job Growth|
|Public School Teacher||$47,500||14%|
|Appraiser (Residential Real Estate)||$42,000||23%|
|Day Care Center Teacher||$26,400||33%|
|Labor Relations Manager||$100,700||20%|
|Medical Records Coding Technician||$38,800||29%|
|Department Retail Sales Manager||$32,900||4%|
|Retail Sales Staff||$25,400||17%|
|Staff Nurse (RN)||$59,800||29%|
|Tax Accountant II||$59,500||22%|
Seems like there are certain job positions that are well suited for the more mature crowd — I can see how jobs in health care, retail and education can benefit from both wisdom and patience, characteristics you normally find in spades amongst the older set.
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