Older worker stereotypes overturned

A new academic study confirms that almost all negative generalizations about employees over the age of 40 are untrue.

A recently published article, Evaluating Six Common Stereotypes about Older Workers with Meta-Analytical Data by Thomas W.H. Ng (University of Hong Kong) and Daniel C. Feldman (University of Georgia) presents the findings of an analysis of around 400 studies of older workers’ performance.

The paper finds that nearly all negative stereotypes about this group are unfounded and suggests, as the number of older workers continues to increase, that managers should reconsider widely-held misconceptions that often lead to age discrimination.

The study examines six of the most common and damaging stereotypes: i.e. that, compared with younger workers, older employees are (1) less motivated, (2) less willing to engage in training and career development programs, (3) more resistant to change, (4) not as trusting, (5) more likely to experience health problems that affect their work, and (6) more vulnerable to work–family conflicts.

The authors found empirical support for only one of those stereotypes. Older workers, on average, are indeed less likely to engage in career development—an attitude that relates, at least in part, to training programs designed for younger employees. The five other stereotypes were unfounded.

For further information, see http://www.strategy-business.com/article/re00225?gko=70968

2 Responses to Older worker stereotypes overturned

  1. TRCRC says:

    Good to learn that Academe is catching up with the blindingly obvious.

  2. Ken MacIntyre says:

    Someone should tell Larry Elliott about this. In today’s Guardian he says that while older workers may be more reliable than younger ones, they are slower to take up new ideas and techniques. Try substituting ‘women’ or ‘black people’ for ‘older workers’ and then see what reaction you get.

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