National Older Workers Employment Week takes place during the second full week in March to recognize the contribution of older workers to the workforce and encourage more employers to hire them. This year, it takes place from March 12 to 18. Did you know that before the introduction of retirement in 1883, people worked until they couldn’t work anymore? The current retirement age in the United States is 65 years. However, employers have been using various tactics to force people older than 40 years out of the workforce in the past few years. National Older Workers Employment Week is an initiative against such forced retirement.
History of National Older Workers Employment Week
The origin of retirement can be traced to ancient Rome in the 13th century B.C. when the empire paid pensions to Roman Legionnaires who had served for 20 years. In the 18th century, Cotton Mather, a New England Puritan minister and author, used his popularity to campaign for elderly people to retire. He said, “Be glad of dismission. . . Be pleased with the retirement which you are dismissed into.” In 1883, Otto von Bismarck, the German chancellor, proposed an initiative to pay those 65 and older to leave the workforce. The idea was a political maneuver against Marxists gaining power and popularity. Before the end of the decade — in 1889 — the initiative became law, and citizens over 70 were paid pensions. This initiative quickly caught fire, and governments began adopting a similar retirement system.
In the mid-1800s, the U.S. government started providing public pensions to certain municipal employees —mainly in the big cities — including firefighters, police, and teachers. In 1875, American Express became the first company to offer private pensions. By the 1920s, private pensions had become widespread, and various industries — from railroads to oil to banking — had begun offering them to their employees. In 1935, the U.S. government under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the Social Security Act, forcing workers to pay for their retirement. The official retirement age was then capped at 65.
In the 1900s, the retirement industry boomed, and Florida became the retirement destination for the white-collar class. Retired workers became known as senior citizens, and the American Association of Retired Persons turned into “AARP Inc.” Today, governments and organizations worldwide are developing initiatives to bring back older people into the workforce and have them work until they can’t work anymore.
National Older Workers Employment Week timeline
Otto von Bismarck lays a proposal before the Reichstag to pay pensions to citizens over 65 years.
Various industries in the United States start offering private pensions to their workers.
President F. D. Roosevelt proposes the Social Security Act for workers to pay for retirement.
Governments and organizations introduce initiatives to retain older people in the workforce.
National Older Workers Employment Week FAQs
Why are employers reluctant to hire older workers?
Employers don’t like hiring older workers because they believe they are slow, lack cutting-edge knowledge of the field, and don’t have the time to grow with the company due to their age.
Is there value in employing older workers?
Aside from the years of experience they bring to the table, older workers have excellent work ethics, display high-level loyalty, increase the productivity of an organization, and have high decision-making skills.
How do you keep older workers in the workforce?
Some ways you can retain older workers include offering flexible work hours and a phased retirement plan, providing additional training, and making them feel valued.
How to Observe National Older Workers Employment Week
Hire an older worker
If you are an employer or a talent recruiter, you can start creating a balance between older workers and young workers in your workplace on National Older Workers Employment Week. Encourage older workers to apply for open positions and start giving preference to professional drive, skillset, and experience over applicants’ age.
Eliminate age stereotypes in your workplace
Older workers are of high value to an organization. You can help mitigate the stereotypes against them by educating your colleagues on facts about older workers and discouraging forced retirement tactics. Remember that your contribution against age discrimination today will benefit you tomorrow.
Raise awareness about the importance of older workers
Use your influence and resources to raise awareness about the benefits of older workers in the workplace this National Older Workers Employment Week. You can use Twitter Spaces to discuss older workers’ role in the economy, share facts about older workers on Facebook or Instagram, or donate to a charity working on bringing more older workers into the workforce.
5 Interesting Facts About Older Workers
Social security does not cover all expenses
Social security benefits only cover 40% of your income when you were working.
Older people value older workers
51% of the baby boomers think that older workers are better at solving problems.
They experience discrimination from their 50s
The A.A.R.P.’s study found most older workers start experiencing age discrimination after 50 years.
Multigenerational teams are more productive
Research shows that teams with people from different age groups are more productive.
Older workers are the happiest
Reports have shown that older workers over 65 years are the happiest age group at work.
Why National Older Workers Employment Week is Important
Older workers improve an organization’s productivity
Age diversity has been shown to improve an organization’s productivity. You can expect to get better results from a mixed-age team than from a team of only young people.
Older workers are skilled and experienced
Older workers are a repository of knowledge and experience. Over the years in the industry, they have honed their skill into mastery, delivering the best value to customers, unlike young people who have little experience and are more prone to mistakes.
Older workers are easy to retain
Older workers offer the stability that is unlikely in younger workers. They are less likely to jump ship when they receive a better offer, reducing the cost of hiring new workers.
National Older Workers Employment Week dates