There are 76 million baby boomers who are getting close to that magic number “60”, when thoughts turn to beach combing and bike riding, right? Wrong. Not in today’s economy. Many boomers who once entertained the idea of retirement around 60 can’t or don’t want to stop working. Some Boomers would be bored, others would be broke, if they decided to retire now.
Improved lifestyle, better nutrition and advancements in medical care, are adding years to the lifespan of our seniors. That’s fantastic news for those who want to retire and can afford to. But not everyone has their financial house in order or wants to play golf every day. Today’s tight labor market can offer opportunities to the seniors who want to keep working or get back into the workforce.
Managers who have negative perceptions of older adults may believe that these seniors won’t add value to their organization because their skills are outdated, and/or they don’t have the energy or flexibility necessary to function in a fast-moving company.
Is this really the case? Can growing companies afford to have this attitude toward hiring older aged employees?According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rates for individuals 65 and older are projected to outpace all other age groups in the coming years. Specifically, those individuals 65 to 74 and 75 and older are projected to grow at rates of 55% and 86%, respectively.
So, the numbers tell us that companies are in fact hiring older employees. What about you? Should you consider hiring an older individual? Is this a wise decision? I think it is, for a number of reasons:
- Maturity and Wisdom: Older employees have life-lessons that a 22-year-old college graduate lacks. Younger employees – if they are open to it – can learn a lot from interacting with someone twice their age. These seniors can be great mentors to younger employees.
- Honesty: Older employees aren’t worried about advancing their career and have an easier time being open and honest with their manager, especially if they see something that’s not right. Also, if a 62-year-old has a clean employment record, chances are they won’t be stealing from your company.
- Knowledge: With age comes experience. Chances are these older employees have experienced good and bad bosses, seen company growth and experienced down-cycles, and have had to adapt to changing technologies.
- Good work ethic: Hard work is not foreign to these seniors. They have seen their parents work hard and these values have been instilled in them. They take pride in their work and because they no longer have a family waiting for them at home, are willing to put in the hours necessary to get the job done.
- Loyalty: If they get a chance to perform in a job that fits their skills – and are treated well by their employer – they will demonstrate great loyalty to their company. They won’t be jumping ship to further their career at another company because career is no longer what’s driving them.
- Communication skills: Older employees understand workplace bickering and politics based on years of experience. They know that it is in no one’s interest and chances are, won’t engage in it.
- Lower cost: Most seniors already have other sources of income that they can tap into which will cover most of their fixed expenses. Many only want to work part time and wouldn’t qualify for benefits anyway. And those who do want to work full-time, probably aren’t in it for the money, but rather for the meaning and fulfillment that work brings them. Base their pay on the position, not tenure and you’ll do fine.
I could continue this list, but I think you get the point. There are many good reasons for companies to consider hiring an older worker especially in a tight labor market.
Lastly, be open and offer workplace accommodations where necessary. This could include more accessible workstations, better lighting, larger computer screens or a more flexible work schedule.