Why midcareer workers are struggling and how business leaders can retain this cohort of employees

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November 20, 2021 7:46 PM

Hiring managers view midcareer workers as being less valuable as hires, and yet they speak very highly of those currently in their organisations

As for actions that leaders can take to bring this set into the fold, in particular, it begins with simply understanding, if you’re an employer, what is the actual performance of different demographics in your company, Mourshed noted

Midcareer workers—those 45 and over— are struggling, particularly those looking for entry-level or intermediate positions, a report by Generation, a non-profit organisation revealed. In conversation with Roberta Fusaro, executive editor, McKinsey at The Mckinsey Podcast, Mona Mourshed, global founder and CEO of Generation stated that the reality is that once you hit a certain age, it becomes much harder for you to be employed. “When we surveyed people who are aged 45-plus across seven countries, 63 percent had been unemployed for more than a year, versus 36 percent for those who are aged 18 to 34. So there’s a very stark reality that employers perceive you and your capabilities very differently when you’re age 45-plus, particularly when you’re seeking to switch into a new career,” Mourshed said.

Interestingly, hiring managers view midcareer workers as being less valuable as hires, and yet they speak very highly of those currently in their organisations. “We asked hiring managers, what are their perceptions of job candidates in the different age brackets of 18 to 34, 35 to 44, and 45-plus? What happened is that hiring managers, and this is across sectors and across seven countries, consistently said they perceived only about 15 to 18 percent of the 45-plus candidates they saw to be a fit for the roles for which they were hiring,” Mourshed stated. Furthermore, it turns out, 87 percent of those individuals are performing as well, if not better than, their younger peers. Ninety percent of them are viewed as having long retention potential, if not more so than their younger peers.

As for actions that leaders can take to bring this set into the fold, in particular, it begins with simply understanding, if you’re an employer, what is the actual performance of different demographics in your company, Mourshed noted. “Then second is ensuring that the fact base is also well understood at the hiring-manager level. There are many industry coalitions, CEOs, that call for intergenerational diversity, greater inclusion, in the talent they hire. But the reality is that it doesn’t trickle down, in many cases, to the hiring-manager level. That awareness, first and foremost, is important. We must examine how the interview happens. When an interview is done through a traditional CV screen, many of the age-45-plus people just automatically are getting screened out because they’re not fitting the type or they’re not fitting the algorithm that’s currently being used.”

The third thing is just simply being very clear about language. Words like, is this candidate agile enough? Is this candidate going to fit in with our culture? Is this candidate going to be savvy? These are all trigger words, which are different ways of saying this person is too old to understand technology or to be able to do this or that.

The Generation research also discussed the importance of training and the fact that a large percentage of midcareer workers need training, but many are reluctant to enroll in classes or to move forward with that training. “In our sample, we included a group of midcareer workers who had switched careers in the past three years. For example, they were working in logistics, and now they’re working in tech. For that group, 75 percent said that profession-specific training was absolutely critical for them to be able to make that career shift. Then, in order to support them to make a shift, we asked the unemployed midcareer respondents whether they are keen to engage in training. We found that 58 percent of them said no,” Mourshed elaborated. As for people who said no, 70 percent are struggling to make financial ends meet. About 60 percent had a secondary-school education, alone. A significant share had been unemployed for at least a year.

Read Also: What are the strategies that retailers can adopt amid continuing supply chain problems

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