The workplace should be a place for all. No matter how long it takes, we need to take steps to improve job access and age equity in the workplace.
Without question, the constant drive for success continues to drain the life out of people, literally. The fact that the Japanese have dubbed death from overwork, Karoshi, is a testament that not all workplaces have changed for the better. We must make crucial adjustments that better accommodate our needs as human beings.
The film “Duty Free” showcases the often ruthless nature of the workplace environment for older adults. Rebecca Danigelis’ story–as filmed by her son, Sian-Pierre Regis–shows the freedom that, in theory, should come with every job. It inspired me to shine light on the improvements for a workplace that values age equity and financial security.
The Job Search
Often, even getting that job can be incredibly difficult for older and younger workers alike. Some Linkedin posts for so-called ‘entry-level positions’ in a favorable field may ask for two or more years of experience. Other jobs may disqualify applicants for having too much experience.
Sure, employers are entitled to pick and choose candidates based on their personal preferences and how they see fit. However, we need to recognize reasonability and respect for those who put in the time to craft a personal cover letter. I have always admired companies who send a simple message about my denial rather than leaving me wondering where my resume ended up. Age Equity Alliance highlighted the power of the multigenerational workforce in this short video. There are plenty more like this one on the channel which spotlight how diverse recruitment can create an efficient workplace. It is those simple actions that can go a long way, especially for brand notability.
Once you get your foot in the door, take a good look at your new opportunities. Consider the workload, the returns, and your future career holistically. For some, comparing multiple jobs will result in some looking better than others on paper. For others, this may be the one shot you have. Keep in mind, it is perfectly OK to pass on an opportunity that you might not feel comfortable with.
“[Look at] how unbalanced work relationships have become,” Regis said in an interview for Forbes. “A company can use you up and then spit you out, and there’s no recourse for the employee who’s put in so much time and effort.”
What Happens Afterward
Once you’re hired, it’s important to ask what happens on the first day and the last. Regis and Danigelis encourage younger employees to look for the ‘last page of the handbook.’ The last page, according to the mother-son duo, illustrates what happens on the very last day of your job. Rebecca said that she “wouldn’t take any job unless that was there.”
The last page should talk about vacation pay after resignation or retirement, any assistance provided by human resources in the event of company termination, or pecuniary benefits with a position change. It is the go-to plan for any career movement within or outside the company.
For younger employees, this page may seem insignificant. But if we are to protect ourselves from age discrimination in the workplace, we have to do the research. And it’s imperative that employers reciprocate the time and commitment of their employees in some way, shape, or form.
“Now is the time for young people to ask for what my mom has suggested, that last page of the handbook,” Regis said. “What happens on the last day of work and not just your first? I think that would go a long way to holding employers [accountable for] what their responsibilities are to their employees.”
As we begin our transition back to the physical workspace, the best time to reinvent the current workplace is now.