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What Really Motivates Individuals Age 50+ to Work?

Study reveals employers and employees are out of sync.

Staff Writers
What Really Motivates Individuals Age 50+ to Work?

Older individuals’ leading motivations to work longer are financial pressures, desires to remain mentally and professionally sharp, and opportunities for social interaction. This, according to a study jointly released by the Age-Friendly Institute and its partner, i4CP.  Priorities for jobs center on pay, along with flexibility and predictability in work location and scheduling.

As fertility rates decline and life expectancy continues to rise, older people will represent an ever-growing percent of the world’s population.  

Employers must position themselves to best navigate this demographic reality and to capitalize on the many advantages and benefits of employing older workers.  

Adults 55 and older are projected to increase their participation rate over the next ten years, while those 25 to 54 will reduce their rate of participation.  This, according to U.S. government data.

9 out of 10 older adults cite age discrimination when looking for work.  When asked what it means to be an age-friendly employer, people typically remark on employer attitudes and policies.

One Massachusetts respondent in her late 60’s said: “They allow seniors to continue to be a contributing part of the workforce without any conceived notions that they cannot perform well. There are doctors, scientists, presidents, congressional persons, generals, actors, lawyers, judges, dentists, dictators, and nurses that work into their nineties.”  

A Chicago-area respondent added: “That it does not depend on your age but actually what you can bring to their organization. Many people who have work longer have also had varied tasks and have learn to adapt to the changes.  We are never too old to learn something new. Everyone should have a chance on a position even if we are over or under qualified. It depends on what we can do out of the experience.”

Another Illinois respondent in her 70’s added, “hiring people of all ages and letting it be known that they genuinely value and desire older workers. They have experience and a work ethic that many younger people do not have.”

A South Carolina man in his 60’s commented about compensation expectations: “A willingness to hire someone regardless of their age, provided they are qualified. A willingness to accommodate an elderly person if the person needs the accommodation--a flexible schedule, shorter work days, fewer work days--and to pay accordingly.  I do not believe that an elderly person should work less than anyone else and receive the same pay.  The elderly person should receive pay for time worked.”

Date posted: Jan 20, 2024
Staff Writers

Staff Writers are content experts, community members, educational partners, and bloggers. Articles are reviewed by the Age-Friendly Institute.

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