What age is officially old?

Is being “mature” like cheese and wine?

For many people sadly this is not the case and the last couple of weeks brought me in contact with an “age old” problem of… age in our businesses.

Depending on what government department you talk to, mature age (old)  can be defined as being over 50, 55, or 60.

the first 50 years

It has always bothered me that there is such a variance and why can’t there be one agreed age?

Speaking to both employers and employees there is always 2 sides to every story of who you employ who to be part of your team.
Different industries need different skills we all know that but what about different age groups?

It is important to keep a balance of age groups as each group brings a skill set and mindset that reflects your customers/clients and brings an all-round balance of ideas and wisdom to your business.

This “age thing” must still be a problem as the Australian Human Rights Commission has brought out this great new video that has touches of the Old Spice ads that went viral a couple of years ago.

Check it out here at http://www.powerofoldness.com/

What makes me sad though is that we need to produce videos like this in the first place.

One friend told me how the business she managed was bought out and the new company didn’t seem to want anyone over the age of 27. What industry was this?

The funeral industry.

Really?? That does not even make any sense!

Dealing with a young person in the funeral industry can only mean their experience can be very limited compared to an “older” person.
(See I may be being ageist  myself with that comment however having met many of our local funeral home managers over the years, it also needs a range of ages).

Another older person works for an young Executive Officer who routinely replaces any “older workers” with very young ones as the EO has a challenge with people whose skills sets are better than her own.

Some industries think they want younger people, some older people however for most businesses the mixture of both is the right balance.

old at 19

Someone in the hospitality industry was saying he likes having a mixture of both groups.
The younger ones bring fun and energy, the mature ones have a strong work ethic and keep the younger ones in line and on the straight and narrow.
They employ a lot of uni students and the combination works really well.

Do you employ a mixture of age groups in your business?

Is there an industry that should only be hiring one particular age group?


4 responses to “What age is officially old?”

  1. Love Yoko Ono’s quote! And I think youth is a state of mind and being old is a decision. A good age mix with mutual respect and understanding is the answer for a balanced staff.

  2. Jane Floyd says:

    Great article Sue.

    As someone with a corporate workplace history, I can assure you that ageism is alive and well.

    I would have liked to hire more older workers over the years – but blow me down, the younger ones just have ALL the skills needed in an office environment these days.

    So many older job candidates in the interview would own up and say they didn’t know how to use Power Point or do Excel spread sheets. They also were pretty clear about what they didn’t want to do.

    But younger workers say they can do it all! And they do! They’ll design websites, write content, create access databases – you name it – and their confidence, exuberance and communication is heads and shoulders above mature age women like me.

    You might think that younger people are not so experienced as older folk – well, not so quick! These young ones have great experience – usually with top tier organisations. Unlike many of us older folk who have stuck around in the same job for many years, and were a bit more selective about jobs in the city because we needed to be closer to home because of family commitments.

    Young women today have it all – the child minding, the career, the communication skills.

    I’m having much more luck employing older people in my new career – home care – the best workers are middle aged by far. They’re compassionate, patient and skilled at caring – they’ve been doing it all their lives. Younger people are looking over their shoulder to what’s next.

    I think we need to rewrite what it means to be ‘old’. Redefine the skills that are important – the ones that help humanity.

    • Sue Heins says:

      Thanks Jane for your great comment.

      It really depends on the job itself but when you employ a team of people it is still important to have a variety of skills. Even when I owned a trade business the tradies were a variety of age groups and those who were older were given different work to do which was less physical and more technical. Plus their older wisdom calmed the hot headed temperaments of the younger fellas.
      Within my admin team I had a 70 year old who may not have had the technical computer skills however her attention to detail with paperwork was amazing plus I noticed the other employees acted with more grace around her. (including me!)

  3. Jane Floyd says:

    Yes – I can see that definitely working.