What determines the perceived productivity of young and older workers? In this study we present evidence for (Dutch) employers and employees. By confronting the perceptions of employers and employees some remarkable similarities and differences are revealed. It turns out that productivity perceptions are biased by the age group to which one belongs and the position in the hierarchy in the organization. The young favor the young, the old favor the old and employers discount productivity compared to employees. However, there are also remarkable similarities across employer and employees. By distinguishing the various underlying dimensions of productivity of young and older workers we tested whether ‘soft’ skills and abilities within the organization are just as important as the
‘hard’ dimensions - cognitive and physically based skills - in the eye of employers and employees. It appears that employers and employees weight the soft and the hard dimensions of skills in a uniform way: hard skills are far more important than soft skills no matter whether the worker is old or young.By sharing the stereotypical images the problem of age discrimination may therefore not only be due to employers’ behaviors and attitudes, but also due to those of employees.
Keywords: aging; stereotypes; productivity; employers