Many of us worry about what is going to happen to us at work when we get older. Will we be put on the sidelines outside the main cut and thrust of the organisation? Will we end up getting made redundant in some sham re-organisation? Or will we continue to thrive and love what we do? Our 8 point guide is everything you need to know to survive as an older worker. Remember old might mean in age, or in mindset, or both.
Older worker is a pretty emotional term and can mean different things to different people. So it’s probably worth explaining what we mean in this article. A ‘worker’ is anyone who goes to work to earn a living; Finance Manager to Administrator to Sales Director. The word ‘older’ relates to your state of mind rather than your chronological age. Although the two can often be linked, there are plenty of examples where they are not.
You might be seen as an older worker after 5 years, 25 years or never – it depends on your attitude to the organisation, what it does and the people in it.
Rules for Survival
- Don’t set out to win arguments based on your experience or grey hair. So avoid saying things like, ‘when we did something like that 15 years ago it didn’t work well’. Influence people by presenting the fact and evidence for your case in an engaging manner. This will earn you respect.
- Offer your services to cross business project teams. People will see you as a good ‘corporate citizen’.
- Be seen to be positive about embracing change. Older workers often do not survive because they are sometimes seen as hostile to change. You may not like a change as a whole but look for parts of it that are beneficial.
- Make sure you actively and positively get involved in team events and workshops. You need to be seen as ‘onside’ not ‘offside’ to survive.
- If your boss is younger in age than you don’t go around giving him or her advice on how you would do things. Don’t get a reputation for being awkward or difficult. The boss’s boss will always back your boss not you. This may end with you leaving – probably as part of a re-structuring exercise.
- Make sure you come up with at least one business improvement idea a year. This can be to reduce costs or grow revenue. Do this enough and you will be seen as a positive agent for change.
- Keep fit mentally and physically. This will enable you to contribute at the same level consistently.
- Never be heard to say publicly ‘it was better when X ran the department, or we did things in a certain way’.
You can fall foul of these principles at pretty much any age. If you want to survive, follow them and you will thrive!
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