When you’re an “older worker,” it’s rare to find a silver lining in the challenging job hunt. It’s even more rare for that lining to be the silver in your hair—especially in the tech world.
One company in South Korea is leading by example. Since its start in 2013, EverYoung, a digital-content monitoring company, has only hired people over age 55. The oldest employee is 83. Yes, the company name might sound kind of ageist to your ears, but EverYoung founder Chung Eunsung says he created his hiring policy to address the “very pressing” issue of rampant age discrimination in South Korea. He hopes that by hiring people who are at an age when most of the country’s companies would force them into retirement, he can not only change the lives of seniors but breathe life into the local economy, too.
While US tech firms are famous for their often blatant age discrimination—one report quotes the CEO of HubSpot as saying that gray hair and experience are “overrated” in his industry and describes the company’s calculated frat house–like environment, with refrigerators stocked full of beer and game rooms for the staff—EverYoung values its workers for their more mature approach to work. A company manager, Kim Seong-Kyu, says the staff has superior attention to detail, which he says was hard to find in younger employees. The seniors focus on their work better. They’re also perfectly fine with leaving their phones in lockers, which would cause a riot among younger workers. Best of all, they all demonstrate that age is no barrier to learning new skills and new technologies—in fact, they welcome it.
“I try to keep up with the times and I’m eager to learn new skills again. I have picked up so many new IT skills here and enjoy coming to work every morning because of that,” an 83-year-old employee told Channel News Asia.
The company trains its hires to censor sensitive information on Naver Maps (Naver is the country’s equivalent to Google) and monitor what appears on its blogging platforms. The staff even conducts coding classes for local school kids.
In turn, EverYoung supports its staff with progressive policies fashioned to enhance the work experience. Besides a pantry (not crammed with beer) and a break room (with sofas, books and a blood pressure machine) there are mandatory ten-minute breaks every 50 minutes, and the shifts are just four hours long.
Listen up, Apple!