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Recipe for eternal youth

Why aren't companies willing to invest in mature employees and how do you stay in demand as a specialist after the age of 50? Galina Spasenova, a partner at Kontakt InterSearch Russia, tells us.
The topic of ageism is acute in Russia. The increase in the retirement age was not prepared in terms of employment for professionals 50+. The reform took many employees by surprise who were already preparing for retirement and therefore had not invested in their professional development and attractiveness to the labour market. At the same time, large corporations are rejuvenating their workforces with new, more flexible, and creative employees. Many management positions are held by Generation Y, who are naturally trying to recruit younger people who are close to their culture.

What are the challenges of working with employees after 50? Employer survey, by Kontakt InterSearch Russia, 2018

44%
None
30%
Conservatism, outdated approach, difficulty accepting new things
28%
Lack of flexibility, not willing to listen to others
26%
No motivation to develop further
18%
No mobility, no reaction speed
18%
Decreased overall productivity
Why invest in senior managers and professionals?
First, they are bearers of knowledge and experience, and they possess a certain amount of life wisdom. Secondly, older people tend to be more loyal to their employers, especially if they have a long employment record with the same organization. Often their career and even financial ambitions are not at the forefront – stability and comfort are more important. At the same time, they are ready to invest as much as possible in the fulfilment of their duties. Generally, these people make good mentors for younger members of the team. In addition, they usually have family problems already solved and children grown – they can invest more personal time in their work.

The experience of older employees is worth using in the training and mentoring of younger professionals. This will benefit everyone: young people gain knowledge; older employees gain energy and a modern outlook from young people. Many companies have adaptation programs and individual development plans for young professionals. Why don't they make them for those who are much older? Don't they have anything to learn anymore?
"To develop harmoniously, an organisation needs to be made up of different people with different personalities and cultures"
Why is it easier to get a job in Europe if you are over 50?
Reforms there tend to go more smoothly: for example, raising the retirement age in Germany takes almost 20 years. Legislation is designed in such a way that it is easy to hire a person, but difficult to fire him or her; there are much more guarantees. And the emotional and physical resources are usually higher, as people have more desire and opportunities to look after themselves.

There are programmes to involve people who have already retired in expert tasks. There is the practice of interim management, which is beginning to be used in Russia, when managers are not tied to one company and are hired to manage specific projects. Sometimes, companies attract external mentors with extensive professional experience for corporate training – this is especially relevant for more conservative industries.
How do you adapt older people to the company culture?
Above all, it is important to focus on the comfort of both the new employee and the team. The company cannot tolerate formalities and only communicates on a first-name basis? Choose those who are "young at heart", who are active and who share your philosophy. You should learn about the person's interests and values even at the interview. There are positions where interaction with the team is minimal – professional experience is much more important.

What has helped you restart your career in your time? Executive survey, by Kontakt InterSearch Russia, 2019

34%
Additional education: second higher education, MBA, business schools
33%
Network and recommendations
21%
Support from loved ones
19%
A cash cushion
18%
Maintaining relationships and communicating with executive search companies
14%
Communication with a mentor/coach
4%
An objective view of yourself and your competencies
Why is it important to be able to work with the younger generation?
Today, the ability of the older generation to communicate with the younger generation is not about being respected a priori. Sometimes candidates, when they come to a company and see young female recruiters, say: "How can she assess me? This is fundamentally wrong. You must understand that you are dealing with a specialist with specific competencies and authority and to build a constructive dialogue. Nowadays, people enter business at an early age, fast track their careers and often, at 30, manage employees who are twice their age. It's a two-way street.

When you join a company, it is important to understand that you are coming into an established corporate culture. Either you adopt this culture, or it rejects you. Therefore, those who find it difficult to accept young managers should simply opt for more conservative businesses.