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Due to inflation, a third of America’s retirees have at least considered returning to work, and 14% of current retirees say that they are open to or actively looking for work. Unfortunately, 43% of retirees see ageism as a barrier to finding work in their older years, according to a recent American Staffing Association survey conducted by The Harris Poll. 

“At a time when more retirees need additional income and employers need their expertise and experience, older workers continue to face hiring barriers,” said Richard Wahlquist, president and at the American Staffing Association, an industry trade group. “Employers that take steps to embrace flexibility and diversity across their entire workforces will be more productive and have higher levels of employee engagement.” 

Chelsea and Grand Rapids, MI-based Brio Living Services is doing just that. The company has an initiative to actively recruit employees aged more than 50 years and recently earned the Certified Age Friendly Employer designation because of it. The certification program, created by the Age-Friendly Institute, recognizes employers’ commitment to being great places to work for those over 50.

Many organizations tend to overlook age in their markers for diversity, inclusion and equity, studies have found. Michelle Baldwin Henderson, Brio’s chief human resources officer, sees age as part of the organization’s DEI work, however.

Approximately 17% of Brio’s workforce is aged 55 or more, LeadingAge reported. Although several employees in that group have been with the organization for many years, Brio has since 2020 offered 20% of its positions in administration, caregiving, dining, environmental services, hospitality and management positions to those aged 50 and older. 

“A lot of times, we focus on race or ethnicity or religion, but age is a big factor, and age discrimination, as we know, is alive and well. We wanted those who were older to see us as a welcoming, inclusive environment,” Henderson told the provider advocate.