43% of tech workers worry about being fired due to their age
- A recent Indeed survey found that 43% of workers in the tech industry worry that they'll lose their job because of their age. Indeed polled 1,011 U.S. tech workers for the survey.
- The survey also found that 29% of the respondents said the average age of their workforce was 31 to 35, the higher end of the millennial generation. Generally, the industry skews under 40; 17% said the average age at their organization was between 20 and 30; 27% said between 36 and 40; and 26% said over 40. The results show that millennials make up about half (46%) of the tech workforce.
- Another finding is that while 85% of the respondents said their organizations care about diversity, age remains an issue. While most tech job applicants target Silicon Valley for positions, Indeed found that older job seekers look at tech centers beyond that area in order to find opportunity.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discriminating against workers age 40 and over based on age. Refusing to hire older applicants or firing, demoting, disciplining, not promoting or taking some other adverse action against older workers solely because of their age violates the law. Today, the EEOC receives 20,000 claims annually.
Language in ads that suggests only young job seekers need apply should be eliminated. Describing the ideal candidate as "energetic" or the workplace as "fast-paced" are dog whistles in some organizations noting that older workers need not apply. Although recruiting young workers is the aim of most recruiters, older workers often have the knowledge and experience needed to fill the skills gap and therefore shouldn't be automatically passed over.
Instead of assuming that age is why an older worker's job performance has slipped, a manager should focus only on the worker's performance and ask what can be done to help. The reason for the decline in performance might reveal a need for training or perhaps a health issue, not age.
Amazon, a leader in cloud technology, is credited with hiring candidates at various levels of expertise. The average age of its software engineers specializing in managing cloud networks and solutions is 40 to 45 — somewhat above the industry's average age of 35. Hiring candidates with skills and knowledge at various levels helps maintain continuity in an organization's products or services. This hiring strategy has worked for Amazon and could work for other employers, as well.