Actus des entreprises

Age is not only associated with experience, but also with prejudice

Experienced professionals are an asset for companies abroad, Slovak ones do not use their potential.

Respect for the experience of the elderly has become rather a saying in Slovak society, which is sometimes repeated, but is far from being put into practice. This is confirmed by the experience of Blanka Schelling, founder and co-owner of Arthur Hunt. According to her, people in their fifties, regardless of their abilities, are more likely to face prejudice and talk of a young team in which they would not fit in. However, companies are ignoring the challenge of longevity that Slovakia will face in a few years' time.

You have been publicly communicating the plus 55 topic agenda for a longer time. Why should this be important to us?

This is a subject that will touch all of us sooner or later. At this age, unless you work for the state or are directly an owner or shareholder in a company, you become what is known as a fragile group. Meanwhile, the population aged 55 and over, as well as current Eurostat forecasts, are predicting that this number will rise from 1 570 000 to 2 220 000 people in 2050

What specifically does your market experience show?

I founded the company at the age of 45, and it's no secret that my heartthrobs have become adults with active careers, knowledge, and a desire to always be useful. A senior manager, or an expert, who has to lead a team and guarantee the lowest possible error rate, must have lived a bit. With such a person, juniors and successors can grow and gain experience. For the last five years I have been focusing more intensively on the subject of experts, whose increasing age takes away their belief in opportunities, but not their energy or ability. The job market sometimes reacts to their age in a discriminatory, un-visionary way. New trends have hit us and we have to deal with them professionally, especially in the HR sector.

So, actually, where is the problem?

Today's labour market is unfortunately characterised by an officially uncommunicated reluctance to employ, or even deal with, professionals over 50. It is not just a question of finances when older workers become overqualified for companies. It is partly a concern about their possibly more conservative outlook, which supposedly does not fit into the life of companies with younger staff. Paradoxically, 30 years ago, it was these workers who were in charge of foreign corporations, who are linguistically equipped, who are flexible and who can cope even in difficult situations.

How is this problem perceived by candidates in their fifties?

It's a life situation that is impossible to get used to. However, one can prepare for it and look for ways to solve it. I know many people from experience who have managed this change and made their hobby a new working business model at the right time. A former top financier, a runner, became an international race organiser, another became a developer of a network of dental practices, a human resources director became an interior designer. These are stories that can show the way. But not all of us want such a change. We like to do what we do well and we want to participate in companies where there are rules and clear accountability. So why do we feel that age has brought us mainly discomfort, perhaps even disillusionment, in terms of job opportunities. We need to reflect on whether this is really about our age or about a society that is unprepared and uneducated in this area.

 

Will the Slovak market face a big challenge because of this trend?

As we can see from the statistics, in the case of the Slovak Republic the ageing of the population is even faster than in the case of other European countries. Slovakia is relatively unattractive and closed to migration, and has long suffered from a trend of emigration, especially of the young population, which makes the problem even worse. Eurostat forecasts show that Slovakia is one of the three fastest ageing countries in the Union.

What age horizon are we talking about today?

The realistic age patterns for different types of positions have shifted and today's 60-year-old is ready for change like his fifteen years younger colleague. Longevity in terms of human resources, applicability of expertise, but especially the willingness to work on projects in different locations and industries is now a daily reality. Unfortunately, we cannot adequately grasp it in our country. In developed countries, experienced experts are perceived by companies as a benefit. In our country, however, we often hear phrases such as: "we would like to, but you know, we are a young company."

Is the notion of age inclusion thus becoming a bogeyman for both sides?

Rejecting the part to experts at this age gradually takes away from self-esteem. The fact that they have to go around actively offering themselves and not infrequently interacting with the younger generation, who are often not ready for such a dialogue, does not add to the joy either. A phenomenon that we have to work with very actively and openly today, to accept it and, above all, to be able to use it also as a benefit for the benefit of companies, is called longevity of people, in English longevity.

What changes in the approach of employees and employers in particular does this require?

Individuals will have to adapt to changing labour market dynamics in relation to longevity. Prioritise continuous learning and ongoing development of their skills throughout their careers. On the other hand, it should be incumbent on the state and employers to inform themselves about inclusive labour market trends and consider flexible working arrangements or alternative career paths. Frankly, in our experience, an older professional has to fight very hard to be seen at all. Of course, there are also senior experts who are waiting in line, so to speak, but that's not what we're talking about in general practice.

Could age-mixed teams become a benefit for companies?

I believe that in the context of trends associated mainly with the younger generation of employees, employers will understand that it is time to address the issue of corporate culture as well as their own survival. Employing the older generation is about an ever-active workforce that, if not addressed in time, will fade away. That is why companies need to train specialists in HR departments without prejudice, to address the issue and especially communication with all age groups in a non-discriminatory, respectful and respectful manner. It takes a little more empathy and understanding for the benefit of being able to create age-balanced and mixed teams, instead of closing the door with a simple and ultimately hurtful sentence about a young company. The young need to draw experience from the older ones and the older ones can learn new things and gain momentum with the support of the young.

What are your recommendations?

We have a unique opportunity to share together the opportunities of the real labour market. Let us try not only to discuss, but also to practically address a fact that is statistically obvious. As people are living longer, they should have the chance to choose, if they want and need quality work, to work for a longer period of time. We should therefore forget about this strange age of so-called translucent professionals and use what we have in them to our advantage. The aim of this joint effort is to give older candidates the chance to be part of the selection process, for example.

Finally, tell us what initiatives you prepare to manage this issue?

At Arthur Hunt we have been working on the Plus 55 project for a long time. It is an age-targeted portal for candidates and companies alike. At the time when this platform was created, people did not believe that this could happen in society, others argued that the time was not right yet. But the time is ripe and we are ready. Of course, we are updating its design as well as its functionality and we are very pleased with the interest of companies to advertise on this portal. We believe that in September it will be fully accessible to all.

 

Blanka SCHELLINGOVA

is an expert for international Executive Search projects for top management and highly specialized expert positions. She has more than 25 years of experience in international advisory and consulting companies. Recently, she has been intensively promoting the topic of 55+ experts and their possibilities at the labor market.

Plus55 is a job portal which connects experienced candidates over 55 and companies that need them. It enables its clients to post job advertisements and to access a database of highly qualified senior experts. Candidates can create their professional profile and actively respond to job offers.

The plus55 company, together with other important companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Slovnaft, Unilever, the Office of the President of the Slovak Republic, became one of the first signatories of the Diversity Charter of the Pontis Foundation.

www.plus55.net

Our member Arthut Hunt offers you free advertising on Plus 55 for 6 months: www.plus55.net/skna for 6 months. If you are interested, please contact Mrs. Benciová (benciova@arthur-hunt.sk) or Mrs. Matejčeková (matejcekova@arthur-hunt.sk).

 

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