Why You Need Me on Your Team

Why You Need Me on Your Team

Sara Isaac Apr 17, 2024 2 MIN READ

I am an older adult.

It shouldn’t be hard to write that. But it is.

I’ve long looked a bit younger than my age, even though I’ve never tried to hide it. In some ways, it’s an advantage. Younger people bring me into their professional circles without the usual instinctual biases. We get along. We have fun. We learn from each other.

But my ability to fly under the radar is also a disadvantage. Because I bring a lot to my team precisely because of my age. And that often goes unrecognized.

I’m not just saying this because I love working in multigenerational teams. Nor because I am perennially astonished by how much I can supercharge younger colleagues with just a bit of mentoring. 

It’s because the research shows that it’s true. Teams made up of older and younger adults perform better than those made up of just one age group or another.

Younger adults learn new things faster. Older adults bring a bigger picture and a longer view.

Sometimes I feel like ageism is the last acceptable “ism” in our society. When I first did research with older adults who talked about reaching an age where you suddenly become invisible, I didn’t really understand. 

Until I did.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans over 65 who are still working – because they want to or have to – has nearly doubled since the late 1980s. But most hiring managers have strong negative stereotypes of job candidates older than 45, with a preference for those aged 30 to 44.

Thankfully, not my company.

I’m not sure when I’m going to be ready to head for the hills. But right now, I know my company and my co-workers are benefitting because I want to keep working. And I am enriched personally and professionally by how much my younger colleagues keep me in the know about the way we live now. 

I’ll let you all in on a secret. The U-shaped curve of happiness is real despite its many detractors. While all of America runs away from being old, older adults of all stripes are living some of the happiest days of their lives. 

My advice? Embrace us as part of your world. And be willing to be part of ours. We’ll all be better off, at work and otherwise.

Sara Isaac is Chief Strategist at Marketing for Change.