“Providing flexibility to older employees serves our own interests”  — Steve Kempf, CEO, Lee Spring

“It’s not about the employee’s age, it’s about making the best experience for our students.“ — Head of School Dominic Randolph, Riverdale Country School

In mid-January I attended the third annual Age Smart Employer Awards, honoring 13 New York City organizations that value employees of all ages. A morning with 200 people who know that experienced  adults are a vital asset for their businesses…priceless!

Who’s behind the program? The Robert M. Butler Columbia Aging Center organizes the awards, with Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funding. This year’s rigorous selection process screened a record 100 applicants across 10 age-smart employment practices including: training, flexible work arrangements, job restructuring and continued opportunities for promotion.

“Dealing with the ‘longevity dividend’ is one of the great design challenges of the 21st century,” observed Linda Fried, Dean of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and a thought leader on longer lives. “We need to develop new structures that support longer working lives, and pathways for people to continue working if they choose.” Fried emphasized the Awards’ important role of inspiring other organizations with success stories and best practices.

Award winners highlighted the value of older adults in their businesses. Accounting firm PKF O’Connor Davies regularly hires partners forced to retire from Big Four firms, noting, “we never focus on age, we want the best talent.” The Educational Alliance commented on older employees’ contributions as mentors. Beloved Ukranian restaurant Veselka commented on their reliability: “One of our oldest employees got to work from New Jersey in a snowstorm.”

Keynote speaker Kerry Hannon, author of Great Jobs for Everyone 50+, emphasized the value of intergenerational workplaces and the opportunity to inspire other employers with these role models.

Last word to Silvercup Studios President Gary Kessner, “Our greatest asset is our human capital, and our older workers are hugely valuable. I look forward to the day when these awards aren’t necessary!”

Read more about the winners and watch the inspiring video here.

Published: January 29, 2018