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Challenging age stereotypes as work becomes “age agnostic”

by on November 16, 2016

It’s always good to see challenges to age stereotypes, a theme picked up this article in the Harvard Business Review by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, authors of the book ‘The 100-Year Life: Living and working in an age of longevity‘.

The article is headed Our Assumptions About Old and Young Workers Are Wrong and is based on survey data collected from 10,000 people from across the world aged 24 to 80. The authors report having found far fewer differences between the age groups than might have been expected with many traits and desires usually attributed to younger people being shared by those in other age groups.

Specifically, they report that:

  • It is not just the young who are investing in new skills.
  • It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their work.
  • Older people are working harder to keep fit.
  • Older people are not more exhausted.
  • Older people don’t want to slow down.
  • Exploring is not just for the young.

They rightly point out that those who completed the survey may not be representative of the wider population, perhaps being people who are particularly interested in the topic of life and work changes.  But as they say, the ‘over-simplicity of age and generational labels decreases our understanding of individuality’ – and, I would add, potentially limits what those of all ages are judged as being capable or suitable of doing.

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