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Sep 8, 2021

In this episode of The NEXT Normal, we confront ageism – particularly in the workplace. Lisa Taylor, President at Challenge Factory debunks two myths about older workers. Whatever we call our ageing workforce, Lisa shudders when we refer to it as the “grey tsunami”.

Lisa [00:03:39] The grey tsunami, my least favourite phrase for this very normal and very positive demographic trend that we are living longer. It casts such a negative light into the concept that we have added years of engagement and productivity and relationship building. It makes it seem like it's a disaster that's happening instead of a triumph.”

North America’s traditional retirement age of 65 was set in 1935. It’s worth noting life expectancy in that year was 62. Today, life expectancy is closer to 83.

Decision Partners President, Sarah Thorne says our collective perception of ageing assumes seniors are all vulnerable. And that’s not entirely true.

Sarah [00:09:44] In times of change, times of uncertainty, what determines how seniors can respond are the social determinants of health, not age. So, we can't simply assign a number and say, this is the age where we need to retire or, as a company I used to work for called it, decelerate.”

Ujwal Arkalgud is CEO and co-founder at Motivbase. As a cultural anthropologist he says we can’t just wait for or rely on policy changes. It’s up to each of us to force a shift in culture.

Ujwal [00:20:40] “People themselves have to change how they think about their careers. They have to change the ideas that they have been born and brought up with. There’s a massive cultural shift that is also necessary because as long as you have people flocking to buy anti-aging products, taking Botox injections, as long as you have…these kinds of narratives…there is no one way that this is going to change.”

Urban planner, Dave Hardy is President at Hardy Stevenson and Associates. Four of his recent hires are in their 70s. He says they not only bring experience and historic perspective, they bring a sense of values to the workplace.

Dave [00:22:43] There's a set of values and a work ethic that's really important in the senior population that I think still needs to kind of trickle down into gen Zed, like: spelling counts when you produce something, showing up to work counts, you know, talking to your boss and not your friends count. All of these things aren’t filtered down. They need to, and that's why I hire people in their seventies.”

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