Ageing and the Workplace

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The evolving workspace makes way and creates space for a generation of older employees, who would not otherwise stick around.

Work provides social contact, personal growth, financial security, stability, a sense of identity and social status.  The workplace — consisting of the work environment and the group dynamics at work — plays an important role in the achievement of the benefits of work.  Not only has there been a change in the demographic distribution, there has also been a change in the work environment since the Industrial Revolution in the 20th century.  Work culture has evolved from a fixed and mechanical one to that of flexible working conditions. The idea of having fixed hours from 9-5 has shifted to accommodate flexible hours and remote working, based on the needs and availability of the employees. This also highlights a growing equality of rights between employees and managers.  [mkdf_blockquote text=” A casual work environment, an emphasis on teamwork and the increasing influence of technology has changed the way a company and its employees function.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Looking at the demographic trends of various countries, it is evident that although there is a lot of inflow of young employees, the workforce is also ageing.  Apart from developing countries like India, where mortality rates and birth rates are high – contributing to a younger workforce — several developed countries have an ageing workforce. Economic needs evolve, and with current rates of inflation and increasing demand of consumer goods, financial needs have taken precedent over retirement. [mkdf_blockquote text=”Several employees over the age of 55 are less confident about their retirement plans and several find pension and retirement savings insufficient to keep up with the growing economic demands. ” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

There is also a skill-gap which is often resolved by retaining the older, more experienced employees. Another, rather simple reason why there seems to be an ageing of the workforce is because of the social benefits of work and the feeling of being generally productive. A study has shown that the availability of choice of whether or not to work past the “typical” retirement age- has shown to be a key to satisfaction among working older adults. Imagine the character of Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) as an intern to Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) in the movie, The Intern.

Keeping the movie in mind, it is easy to see the need of the older generations to work and the responsibility of the current generation to reach out to them and accommodate them in the dynamic work environment. However, prejudices are rather common for humans and the ageing population is no less susceptible to being victim to a set of prejudices either.

‘Ageism’ is stereotyping and discriminating on the basis of a person’s age. At work, ageism may take the following roles:

  • Not hiring an older person;
  • Believing that an older employee would not be interested in learning new technology;
  • A preconceived notion that senior employees would be unable to perform or contribute due to physical maladies; or
  • Making fun of the older employees.

Ageism can negatively affect the employees by lowering their self-esteem and self-worth. While some may begin to internalise the stereotypes which could further limit their workplace satisfaction, others may try too hard to fit in, losing their identity and the unique values they bring to an organisation. Several countries have anti-discrimination laws to counter ageism and several companies even encourage the participation of the older employees at work. Ageism is not the only problem that the ageing crowd faces in the workplace. Some of the challenges they face in the changing workplace are:

  • Increasingly dynamic and involved role of technology often makes it difficult for the employees to keep up with work requirements.
  • Some employees may have a low morale when working for a younger management.
  • Unfixed work timings would also mean increasingly long working hours with comparatively low returns, may especially affect them since they’ve worked for fixed hours for several years.

In conclusion — the years of experience and insight that older employees possess helps the current young generation line of managers and founders. Thus several startups today may have a young founder and CEO but also have a board of senior mentors who may be retired but have several years of experience. In fact, the current workplace culture is rather beneficial for accommodating the senior employees and can be used in the following ways:

  • Technology and easy access to resources can provide opportunities for remote work;
  • Equality and declining grapevine requirements allow for modification of responsibilities according to their needs and abilities;
  • A casual work environment encourages the ageing employees to seek guidance in operating new systems and technologies from the younger employees;
  • Anti-discrimination laws in several countries protects against ageism related issues;
  • Increasingly inclusive values of several new companies encourage the ageing population to work beyond the typical retirement age.

Vini Doshi is a Research Associate (Mental Health) at One Future Collective.

References:

https://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/5-trends-changing-work-environment/

https://businesscasestudies.co.uk/lloyds-tsb/changing-working-patterns/the-changing-work-environment.html

http://www.asaging.org/blog/issues-impacts-and-implications-aging-workforce

https://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1090&context=intl

http://agingandwork.bc.edu/blog/

https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/usefulresources/workandmentalhealth/worker/isworkgoodforyou.aspx

http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/article-details/the-hr-challenges-of-an-ageing-workforce

 

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February Youth Meetup — One Future Collective

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Dated February 24th, 2018. Originally published on March 10th, 2018.

 

One Future Collective (OFC) organised its first Youth MeetUp on February 24th, 2018. Our theme for the afternoon was, ‘Developmental Issues in Gender’ and the participants were a diverse bunch, with people working in the field of finance, water and sanitation, politics, drama, law, and psychology joining for a three hour discussion on four sub-topics related to the theme — but first we got to know each other!

We started with an interesting icebreaker game of Human Bingo, wherein the questions were designed with an intersectional gendered focus, and the winner would complete a horizontal or vertical line of questions by engaging with the rest of the participants. This saw everyone scrambling to find a person who can name 5 female scientists (which was harder than expected!), or someone who can explain intersectionality in 30 seconds to complete their set and win.

The group then broke into smaller groups at different tables, we call this a ‘World Cafe’, each discussing a particular topic on gender for about 20 minutes before the participants could move to another table. This exercise continued until each participant sat at each of the four tables —

At Gendered Economics, the discussions flowed across several parameters: the opportunity cost of being female or trans, employment and recruitment, financial literacy and empowerment of women, the possibility of bringing domestic work /caregiving into the economy by ascribing an economic value to work that is usually seen as duty to be fulfilled in traditional Indian families. We also spoke about pink tax and femmevertising.

At the table discussing Sexual Violence, we talked about assault, the blurry lines of consent, and the idea of marital rape. The discussion traversed the lines of policy and law, discussing the ‘two-finger’ test for rape, and moved towards civic consciousness through bystander interventions. We also debated sex positivity and intersectionality.

The LGBTQIA+ table brought insights on the heteronormative syllabus in schools and how to integrate LGBTQ friendly education in the system. Gender fluidity was discussed with respect to policy making, for example — should we have gender-neutral bathrooms? We discussed the idea that inclusion must come from the included.

Media and Gender is a topic visible to most Indian movie-goers and TV show watchers. Our discussions centred around the portrayal of the genders in Indian cinema, and their stereotypical, problematic and often tokenistic approach. False standards for women and men, the portrayal of love, the commodification of the sexes, and the rise of Indie cinema was discussed, at this table.

The MeetUp concluded the way it began — with strangers getting to know each other and sharing views on subjects that matter. Our aim for this MeetUp and the ones that follow is simple: to start a conversation. Whoever you are, from whatever field of work, your voice as a citizen can affect change in policy.

We are One Future Collective, and we want to know what you want your world to be.

An introduction to the Youth MeetUp and what One Future Collective does.

Our lovely organisers at the registration desk.

The Human Bingo: Asking a stranger a weird question is the best way to break the ice.

At the World Cafe: the Gendered Economics table engaged in conversation.

The wonderful people who attended OFC’s first Youth MeetUp. The future is bright, folks.

The feedback from participants was immensely positive and gave us renewed hope for work ahead. One Future Collective hosts a monthly youth meetup based on different themes, to facilitate conversations among young people from diverse backgrounds, the next one is on March 24th!

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#IAm: Of Women Celebrating Themselves

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Originally published on March 8th, 2018.

Happy Women’s Day. This is our year.

Can you hear that persistent niggling voice at the back of your mind telling you you’re not good enough? If you’re a woman that voice is probably a lot louder and supplicated by hordes of people around you telling you that you’re not good enough.

Well, you are. You’re not only good enough, you’re more than that. This International Women’s Day we decided to run a campaign to aid women reflect on the things they are fabulous at, called #IAm. Ever heard of the phrase, ‘talk about yourself like your best friend would talk about you’? This is just that. We asked women on Instagram and Twitter to tell us things they are absolutely brilliant at, the responses are witty and heartwarming all at once. With more entries still coming in, we’ve highlighted some below:

 

Tell us your #IAm story, own your brilliance! Tweet to us @onefuture_indiaor comment on Instagram @onefuturecollective — we’re waiting to be inspired!

Connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram and LinkedIn.

 

 

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