From the Archive: Six Interesting age facts HR and business leaders should know

A must-have book for every HR and business manager’s bookshelf.

I got into a discussion with a friend about age discrimination. He agreed that age discrimination is much more rampant and “under the radar” than most people think. That made think it was time to dust off this post.
A couple of interesting age facts taken from Tom Peters’ book The Little BIG Things. Written in 2010, the information he gives us about age is still relevant today, given that in 2017 age discrimination cases were in the top five discrimination claims made, making up almost 22% of claims filed.

The facts

Here you go:

  • People turning 50 today have half their adult lives ahead of them- a quote from Bill Novelli, author of 50+: Igniting a Revolution to Reinvent America.
  • Americans own, on average, 13 cars in a lifetime, 7 of which are bought after the age of 50.
  • People age 55 or older are more active in online finance, shopping, and entertainment than those under 55 according to Forester Research.
  • Americans over 50 control a gargantuan share of the personal wealth of the United States (my guess is the same may be true in other western countries.)
  • Americans over 50 are healthier than they have been in the past.
  • American women over 50 control an enormous, and growing share of the total wealth.

The lesson in this?

Peters’ lesson derived from this information is that the vaunted 18 to 44 age demographic is highly overrated as a marketplace. More attention needs to be paid attention to the “oldsters.”
My lesson derived from this is that your 50-year-old employee may have another 25 years of good working life left in them. The days of retiring at 65 years old are over with. The Social Security Administration doesn’t even recognize 65 as a full retirement. Working past the age of 65 must be given much more consideration by employers. Yes, some employees may want to slow down, so you need to think about job sharing or part-time arrangements. You may need to consider training programs for older workers to bring them up to speed with new technology (Yes, we can handle it!) Don’t consider it a bad investment because they may only be around another five years, the younger worker you hire may only be around 3 years and you trained them. Consider that extra two years a bonus.


I asked my class the other day who had ever heard of Tom Peters? No one raised their hand. If you have never heard of him either, then you have missed one of management’s great thinkers. He gets you thinking outside the box. READ him. This book is a great one to start with.

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