Looking ahead to 2022, there may be a great deal of uncertainty for many Boomers. But as we age, some of us see glimmers of hope and maybe even reasons for optimism. One area that could be surprisingly bright is the job market. The "Great Resignation" we've experienced in the United States is creating a great reckoning for employers.
Tim Driver, CEO of RetirementJobs and founder of the Age-Friendly Institute, is someone who is particularly upbeat. He spoke with Chris Farrell, author of the book Unretirement, for an article on NextAvenue.org. Under Driver's leadership, RetirementJobs started a program called CAFE to help change negative stereotypes of older workers. CAFE (Certified Age Friendly Employer) recognizes companies that are among the best employers for the 50-plus worker.
Seeking employees to fill millions of jobs, companies are not only re-evaluating their pay and benefit structures, they are taking a serious look at older workers. Driver believes there is now a compelling business argument for employers to hire Boomers. At the same time, there is a push for companies to embrace DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion). While DEI typically relates to race, gender and LGBTQ, Driver believes "Age may not be first on the list. But it's there." Driver also believes the trend of working from home is a mutual benefit to employers and older workers, who may be happy to work remotely, as well as on a part-time basis.
Another reason for optimism is the growing recognition that age discrimination has real consequences, and it must be addressed by society. Demographically, America is aging and, with it, the negative perception of older people is likely to change, even if it is gradually. One example of organizations that address this issue head on is Driver's Age-Friendly Institute, whose mission is to "harness what we learn when we listen to the voices of older adults to inform continuous age-friendly program improvement and accelerate enhanced quality of life and care for older adults." The Institute focuses on two broad areas: Elevating age-friendly solutions and fostering cross sector collaboration.
In researching information for blog posts, I have noticed a real uptick in numerous organizations, institutions and (thankfully) government agencies focusing more on age discrimination and the needs of the older population. It is also encouraging that more employers are paying attention to the Boomer demographic, even if it is because they are desperate to fill open positions. We will be far better off if everyone becomes "age-friendly" -- and there are reasons to be optimistic a societal shift is slowly happening.