Monday, April 12, 2010

Characteristics that make "ideal" employees regardless of age

Last week, CAC Project Director Helen Dillon offered "7 mistakes that keep Baby Boomers unemployed." At least one anonymous reader took issue with Dillon's thoughts, using language too colorful for publication.

The commenter did not elaborate where the dissonance with the article rose. Perhaps he or she felt that the seven mistakes cited were simply not happening often enough to be generalized to one population.

In 2007, an expert panel convened to give input to CAC's "Gray Matters: Opportunities and Challenges for Indiana's Aging Workforce" was asked, among other things, to consider what an older worker should do to remain vital to an organization. The panel concluded that the characteristics of a vital or "ideal" employee could not be generalized to age.

“The ideal employee will be one, regardless of age, who is intellectually agile, resilient, and able to respond to change. A diverse set of core knowledge, skills and abilities will also be essential.“

The panel also determined that all workers, including older workers, who want to remain vital to an organization need to take responsibility for:

  1. Filling their own toolbox with new skills; seeking out training and other learning opportunities to keep their skills current, embracing the concept of life-long learning
  2. Remaining flexible in attitude and ability
  3. Developing the ability to move from one project to project and organization to organization
  4. Letting go of expectations for continuing to do the same thing in the same way
  5. Demonstrating a willingness to take on new challenges and being open to opportunities to do so
To read more about CAC's "Gray Matters" research, click here.