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American Business and Older Employees: A Summary of Findings

In late 1998, AARP commissioned FGI, Inc., to measure the relative importance of certain employee qualities, the perceptions of senior human resource executives of older employees in relation to these qualities, and how these perceptions have changed over time.  The study also sought to understand companies' efforts to fully utilize older workers, and to account for general employment and human resource issues relevant to today's workforce in general and the older workforce (aged 50 and older) in particular.  A random sample of 400 organizations was selected and senior-level human resource executives at companies with a minimum of fifty employees were interviewed by telephone during November and December.

Respondents appraised the importance of older employees and rated them on a list of 29 qualities.  Older employees were described as possessing all but one of the top seven qualities that companies consider most desirable in any employee, falling short only in willing to be flexible about doing different tasks.  Older human resource managers tended to view older employees more favorably than did younger managers; younger managers held some bias toward older workers and their capabilities, and this bias appears to have increased from 1994 to 1998.  References to qualitative findings from six focus groups among human resource managers are included in the report.

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