While unfair stereotypes continue to fuel age bias in the U.S., here are ten ways to avoid them.

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It was right at the moment that I thought that I’d recovered from Saturday night’s disco inferno and baseball extravaganza, when I realized, yesterday, that I’d paired DC Comics with Marvel by coming to work in Batman socks and Guardians of the Galaxy II boxer shorts.

Hopefully, my reader won’t think any less of me.

Last week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hosted a number of experts at a public meeting entitled “The ADEA @ 50 – More Relevant Than Ever.”

Speaking for the Commission, Chair Lipnic underscored that “outdated assumptions about age and work deprive people of economic opportunity and stifle job growth and productivity.”

One expert cited several common myths about older workers, namely:

  • higher rates of absenteeism;
  • lower productivity;
  • less flexible or willing to adapt to changes in the workplace;
  • technophobia; and
  • less willing to participate in training programs and more costly to train.

Further, an AARP study noted that nearly two-thirds of workers age 55-64 report their age as a barrier to getting a job.

So, how can U.S. business maximize the value of older workers? Here are ten suggestions offered at the public meeting:

  1. Develop an age-diverse interview panel for prospective employees.
  2. Provide employees with information and resources about continued work, e.g., flexible work options, phased retirement, reduced responsibilities, part-time options; and creating a program to reengage retired employees who want some level of continued involvement with the organization.
  3. Reduce the physical demands of jobs and making sure that workplace and environments adhere to existing ergonomic standards and available guidelines for older people.
  4. Design more flexible work schedules such as alternative work hours, shorter work weeks, or providing the ability to work from home for some portion of time.
  5. Accommodate competing family demands.
  6. Ensure that technology systems and applications are properly designed to ensure effective use by older workers whose perceptual, cognitive and psychomotor capabilities are likely to be undergoing normative age-related changes.
  7. Ensure the availability of training and technical support.
  8. Use individualized development plans to help workers who want to retire make a smooth transition into that next stage of life.
  9. Provide cross-generational networking opportunities.
  10. Train managers and supervisors in understanding differences among generations as well as building on characteristics that benefit all generations such as credibility and trustworthiness.

You can find the EEOC press release here.

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