12 workplace behaviors that are aging you by a decade

Social media created this need for instant gratification and not just in our personal lives but also in the business world. While it’s beneficial in some aspects, it’s not the best in others.

Even though Sam, who blogs under the pen name “Gov Worker,” has frequently seen reverse age discrimination over his nearly 20-year government career, the vast majority of the hurting population is more senior employees.

The people who may have been loyal to a company for 20 or 30 years are being viewed as stuck in their ways.

One option is to think about starting your own gig. Even though it’s scary, traditional employment can be just as scary.

As Laura Gariepy, Owner of Before You Go Freelance, says, ‘With traditional employment, you rely on one company to pay you for your efforts.

So what happens when that organization goes out of business, lays you off, or fires you? Your sole income stream dries up in an instant. But, with self-employment, your income stream is diversified by working with several companies at one time. If you lose a customer (or multiple), you’ll still have cash coming in.’ 

If starting your own thing isn’t up your alley, check yourself and see if you do any of the following 12 workplace behaviors.

If you do, it’s time to change them, or you run the risk of being aged out of your workplace.

1. Less motivated for promotions

If you’ve been with a company for a long time and are closer to retirement than you are just getting out of college, a promotion may not be something you care about. 

Unfortunately, it will show in your behavior. Employees who want a promotion are the ‘go-getters.’

You can tell who’s striving to reach the top and who is comfortable right where they are. Get too comfortable, and you may get replaced faster than thought.

Instead of acting like you don’t care about a promotion, put your everything into your job until the day you retire. The money may not matter to you as much right now, but companies care and want only the best.

2. Harder to train

Getting stuck in your ways can make you harder to train.

Today especially, companies changed the way they do things, mostly out of necessity. If you can’t roll with the punches and be easily trained, it could make it hard for you and management.

Make yourself easy to train. Even if you loved the way things were done before, nothing lasts forever and if you want to stay in your position, show enthusiasm towards the new changes.

3. Not wanting to work from home

Working from home is a somewhat new phenomenon, and if you’re nearing retirement, it’s probably not something you ever thought about.

While we may be through the worst of the stay-at-home orders, many companies still want people working from home.

This goes back to the ‘being trainable’ trait you need too. Some changes go along with working from home. If you can’t or won’t learn them, it could make things awkward at work.

4. Not learning new technology

Even if your company stayed ‘in-person,’ that doesn’t mean you won’t have to learn new technology. With so many advancements available today, you’ll have to learn how to adapt. If you refuse, it could make your productivity suffer.

Working in the cloud, learning project management software, and even learning how to conduct video meetings via Zoom is just a small listing of what you may have to learn if you want to stay active at work.

It can feel embarrassing, according to Amanda Kay, Employment Specialist, and career blogger. She says, ‘Don’t apologize if you don’t know something, such as how to use the latest technology or what the latest trends are. Acknowledge that things have changed since you began your career, and do something about it.

Take advantage of whatever training you can. Be proactive and find training materials and resources on your own. And use the experience and accomplishments you have as an older worker to your advantage.’

5. Not taking instruction well

As things change in the workplace, instruction is necessary. For someone who’s been on the job for decades, though, it can feel like an insult to take instruction, especially from someone 10 or 20 years younger.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person training you. They are probably just as intimidated as you. Don’t take it as an insult, but rather a way to keep your job or even earn a promotion if you catch on quickly.

6. Commanding respect from management

The fact that your managers are decades younger than you can be a hard pill to swallow, but it happens. Being disrespectful or not taking direction from them won’t get anyone anywhere.

While you can command respect from everyone no matter their age, you must offer the same level of respect. In the workplace, age doesn’t demand respect. However, Sebastien Rodrigues from Money Saved Is Money Earned recommends using your valuable experience to speak up, despite whether management likes it or not. 

7. Preference to work on tasks alone

Today’s work environment is one of a team atmosphere. If you’re in your 50s or 60s, though, you aren’t used to that. In past decades, everyone did their job, and that was it – no one worked on a team.

Today you have to be a people person. If you can’t work as a team, it’s hard to collaborate and make things happen. Even if you’re working from home or some employees are remote, everyone can connect in the cloud.

8. Insisting on doing tasks manually

Today not many things are done manually, but many people insist. After all, it feels more natural because it’s what they’re used to. Even if you think you can do a better job or a faster job doing it manually, most employers won’t allow it.

Instead, enjoy the automation and processes that make your job easier. Why work harder when you can work smarter, right?

9. Not taking criticism well

We all need constructive criticism now and then, right? How else will we grow and/or know how we’re doing?

It’s not easy to take criticism, especially when you’ve been at the job for decades and the person criticizing hasn’t, but think of it as an opportunity to do an even better job and put your ego aside.

10. Not using technology to communicate

Today, most people communicate via technology. Whether IM, email, or videos, there is very little use of the phone or even in-person communication even within your own company. Resisting to use technology could make you the ‘black sheep’ in the company.

If you aren’t familiar with how particular technology works, don’t be afraid to ask. You may find that you like communicating using technology more than you thought.

11. Refusing to do more work

Today job descriptions are more fluid than ever before. As companies change their structure and reduce the workforce, you may need to be more adaptable. While you may be used to your job description, it may be changing faster than you think.

Rather than refusing to do more work, figure out how you can restructure things to not feel overwhelmed but feel like a team player.

12. Apologizing for not understanding

Don’t feel less than or make excuses for why you don’t know what’s going on. If things change and you aren’t sure how to use them, ask. Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone has to start somewhere, and even if you’ve been in the business for decades, it’s okay to feel like you’re starting over.

The verdict: Combating ageism in the workplace

Age shouldn’t matter in the workplace. There are ways to make a friendly work environment for all employees, no matter their age.

If you feel like you’re suffering from ageism, speak up. Don’t get taken advantage of and, more importantly, be flexible with your work ethic so you too can make the most of your situation.