The 40-something controversy

by

cropped shot of a man holding fan of us dollar

Inge Geerdens, a small business owner in Belgium, has started quite a conversation on LinkedIn.  She wrote a post yesterday titled “Why I hesitate to hire forty-somethings” that has generated quite a controversy and inspired her follow-up “I hire on ability, and nothing else”.

I find these posts fascinating, as a very soon to be 40-something, as an employer, and as a friend and colleague to people in this age group (and older) searching for their next career move.

(Note: my opinions here and I would suggest Ms. Geerdens’ opinions are relevant primarily for higher income knowledge workers: say $100K plus per year)

Ms. Geerdens asserts that 40-somethings are expensive, and hard to justify when there are younger, cheaper models who may do the job as well.   I don’t think she’s discriminating based on age, she’s just offering her perspective on the trends she’s seeing as a hiring manager.  The 40-somethings she’s interviewed have great skills and experience, but they have very high base salary needs based on their lifestyle.

Geerdens offers a solution that I really like: these 40-somethings need to be willing to take on some more risk in their compensation.  If they’d be willing to take some of that salary as pay for performance, perhaps they’d look more attractive in an interview.  Additionally, their hiring companies need to be willing to be creative with compensation packages and really pay them when they do perform.

I don’t have enough data points to generalize, but I have seen through hiring and helping others find jobs that people in this age group do tend to have higher base salary needs and less interest in taking on risk or pay for performance.

Yes, I realize this pay for performance “solution” contradicts some of the recent research on motivating employees (as best highlighted by Pink’s book Drive), but I’ve already blogged on that.

 

READ MORE

Calling Everyone Back to the DEI Table

Calling Everyone Back to the DEI Table

It is no secret that 2020 put a glaring spotlight on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our everyday lives. As our communities reckoned with difficult questions and conversations around racial equity and justice, those topics found their way into...

read more
Did We Just Fall in Love With Hybrid Meetings?

Did We Just Fall in Love With Hybrid Meetings?

Last week, we held a two-day training session for our extended leadership team. We’d been planning it for months — the meeting room, the dinner activity, the team building exercises … the works! This was, as I’m sure you’re picking up on, more than just a meeting,...

read more
“The Great Resignation” Has a Really Good Publicist

“The Great Resignation” Has a Really Good Publicist

Mass resignations are a big deal right now. Yes. Is it surprising? Absolutely not. People leaving for greener pastures is not a new concept. How many of you — given a choice between two situations — would choose the one that LEAST benefited you? If a better option...

read more
The Human Quotient: Heuristics and Bias in Analytics

The Human Quotient: Heuristics and Bias in Analytics

As individuals, we all have a unique set of heuristics and biases that show up in our daily lives, whether we notice them or not. This means that for a lot of the decisions we make, whether personal or professional, there is an underlying, subconscious process that...

read more
Why Keeping It Real Is a Winning Strategy

Why Keeping It Real Is a Winning Strategy

If I had to sum up my pandemic year, I might say it was the year I got to spend each day of an entire summer with my daughter. It was also the year that I significantly altered my career path by taking the brilliant advice of my coach: to lead with my values (keep it...

read more
Meaningful Brand Maturity vs. Promotional Box Checking

Meaningful Brand Maturity vs. Promotional Box Checking

Featuring: Errika Flood-Moultrie Diversity. Equity. Inclusion (DEI). Individually, each word packs its own unique punch, but together, this lineup represents something much greater — profound even — and that is true head and heart transformation. As a people-first,...

read more