Employers scare away older workers: almost two thirds of over-55s overlooked for promotion


Successfully completing a project or a positive evaluation is often the deciding factor in getting a promotion. But this is not easy for everyone, according to a recent European survey by international recruitment firm Robert Walters. Almost two-thirds of working over-55s reportedly overlooked for a promotion in the past year. Robert Walters explains the key figures from the survey. 


Despite experience, over-55s lag behind 

According to the survey, in which 6,000 professionals from different generations (Gen X, Gen Y, millennials) participated, as many as 62% of over-55s in the workplace are 'forgotten' by their managers, and therefore do not get promoted. This is obviously not a good figure. With the number of vacancies so high in almost every sector, it is hard to imagine how such a large part of the workforce is simply 'left out'. Workers over 55, however, have tons of experience, and know better than any age group what is expected of them. They are also often more resilient to unforeseen circumstances and have themselves been through a lot during their careers, so they also know how to handle problems better. Yet despite all their experience, over-55s often fall by the wayside when it comes to promotion. 


There are several reasons for this. Even though they have a lot of experience, there is a certain insecurity among this age group. A third of over-55s indicated in the survey that they do not know what steps they themselves can take to force a promotion. In comparison, only 12% of Gen Z say they struggle with this. This is striking, as there is nothing that indicates that young professionals are better at 'asking' for a promotion.   

In addition, over-55s face some difficult challenges in the workplace. They report receiving fewer opportunities or training than younger employees, or that they find it difficult to combine work and private life. As a result, they sometimes lose the confidence or willpower to go full steam ahead for a promotion. Furthermore, the survey found that almost a fifth of over-50s feel that their manager does not take enough time to understand these personal challenges. 


Nevertheless, there are ways to support older employees and not forget them when it comes to promotions. Managers play an important role here. It is up to them to keep the job attractive by giving more part-time work opportunities, for example. Also, by offering further training options, the most experienced employees will be more motivated, and so their chances of promotion can be boosted.  

But older employees can also take their own actions to overcome challenges. Doing off-the-job project work that matches key professional skills, for example, helps with sharpening certain skills. This ensures that challenges in the workplace can be better handled and that employees become more confident to eventually talk about a promotion with their employer.  

Adequate attention 

It is crucial that employers are open to the needs of all employees. In times of economic uncertainty and a 'war for talent', employers simply cannot afford to lose the most experienced and skilled professionals by not sufficiently accommodating them. So, as with young employees, sufficient attention must be paid to the needs and wishes of the older generation in the workplace.


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