Many older adults want to continue working well into their 60s—and beyond. I know because I’m one of them. And I’m in good company.

According to recent studies, the more connected, productive, socially engaged and mentally stimulated people remain in the second half of their lives, the happier and healthier they will be.

Because so many people are staying in the workforce longer, employers should consider ways to cultivate a work environment that’s friendly to all ages. To sustain an extended work life, it’s important for employers to be proactive by creating policies and procedures that are flexible, adaptable and tolerant.

Despite more older people preferring to work longer and the introduction of progressive policies, ageism still exists in our workplaces—and our culture. Involuntary retirement, also known as being pushed out of the workforce, has become more prevalent with the pandemic and resulting recession. Surveys show 80 percent of older adults have faced ageism, including age-based retirement policies and distorted perceptions.

Supportive allies
However, instead of focusing on the negative, let’s look at what enlightened organizations are doing to overcome ageism and why it matters.

AARP’s mission is to empower people to choose how they age. It’s also working to dispel outdated perceptions of older workers through its #DisruptAging Program.

The Age Friendly Foundation has a similar mission. It’s working to support healthy, active and productive aging by educating and collaborating with industry thought leaders. With life expectancy increasing and changing the meaning of traditional retirement, this foundation expects to see a variety of options conducive to phased retirement, such as working fewer days each week or reduced hours.

Older workers are a tremendous source of human capital. Employers that recognize the benefits and accommodate the needs of older workers not only help their own organizations but also the economy.

Emily Merritt, my colleague at the Alliance for Strong Families & Communities presented a webinar on this topic where she emphasized this point: If we can end ageism, especially in the workforce, we set ourselves up for more successful workplaces and communities. Environments that thrive are multigenerational—and they view their diversity as a core strength.

The Alliance also published an entire toolkit on how to help develop and support these opportunities. To learn more about this helpful resource, click here.