Many business owners say they dislike hiring young people because they may only stick around for a year or two. And then in the same breath, they say they don’t want to hire older workers because they may only stick around for five years.
Aside from the stereotype of them leaving, there is the misconception that they don’t want to work or may not be willing to work for a younger boss. There are often assumptions that they will want a lot of money; that their skills (both job-specific and technology-specific) aren’t current; that they can’t learn; that they are “difficult” and set in their ways. Some businesses also have physical requirements that they assume someone older can’t meet. However, don’t assume. There are a lot of fit seniors out there. More importantly, do you need really need those requirements for every position? In truth, the biggest impediments to older workers being hired are biases. Some that people admit, but many times they don’t.
It’s important to remember that workforce talent comes in many forms and spans all ages. For instance, the rise of “Granfluencers” on platforms like Instagram and TikTok has demonstrated that seniors can be superstar salespeople who excel at connecting with audiences.
If your organization is feeling the hiring strain, consider whether you are fully utilizing the often-marginalized but highly experienced, willing, and able non-traditional worker.
The landscape is ripe and the time is right.
America’s rampant inflation is particularly damaging to those on fixed incomes. As such, the current economic environment is causing more seniors to consider going back to work and staying in the workplace longer. In addition, companies are being encouraged to do everything they can to attract a diverse workforce. Older workers, classified as those age 40 and over by the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, make up a significant portion of the U.S. labor force. Roughly 43% of the labor force in 2020 was above age 44, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with more than 23% older than 54. In addition, mature workers offer some significant advantages compared to their younger counterparts.
Seniors and other non-traditional workers can contribute to business success in many ways.
They have the ability to span many different types of occupations and professions including sales, management, service, hospitality, transportation, construction, maintenance, and more. Here are some of the key benefits you stand to gain:
- Experience that comes with maturity
Older adults often have a level of knowledge that can be gained only through time and exposure. In some industries, it can take years to master a craft. Experience can also be an asset in decision-making and problem-solving processes. Older workers often possess an emotional quotient that younger workers haven’t had an opportunity to develop. Working with, for, and around others for decades provides the framework for positive interactions with colleagues, supervisors, and customers.
- Diverse perspectives
In addition to being inclusive of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics, hiring older workers can also advance corporate diversity efforts. Employees of different generations bring a range of views, skills, and approaches that can be useful in solving problems and may also increase productivity.
- Mentoring and sharing of information
Older workers are usually happy to impart their knowledge to others. Mentoring allows them to leverage the expertise they have amassed and convey their institutional experience. Reverse mentoring, when a younger colleague mentors someone older, can help both individuals. Senior workers can build new skills and connect with younger colleagues, while younger employees gain confidence and leadership experience.
- Longevity and perseverance
Older workers tend to remain with their employers longer than younger workers. Employees who stay with an organization for a number of years are able to increase their skill level, gain institutional knowledge, and become more effective in their roles. In addition, employee retention can be especially important to businesses that have limited resources for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees.
What steps can your company take to attract senior workers?
Like their younger counterparts, mature workers are influenced by compensation, benefits, job security, and interesting work that suits their abilities. Here are some other key attributes sought by seniors, as well as many workers of all ages:
- Flexibility reigns: The more leeway you can offer in terms of hours and scheduling, the better. In addition to full-time employment, they may be interested in part-time, project-based, and remote work.
- Offer a variety of positions: Think outside the box. Finding alternative ways to leverage skillsets can go a long way toward recruitment and retention efforts.
- Make hiring fast and easy: Boost hiring efforts by ensuring that all staff members know what vacancies are available and helping jobseekers apply on the spot. Keep applications as brief as possible, collecting only the necessary information.
- Develop a reputation as a senior-friendly employer: Word gets around when companies hire seniors. Workers tell their friends and family, and that positive word of mouth can be a huge boon. AARP has developed an Employer Pledge, which companies can sign to demonstrate that they value older workers. Senior job seekers using the AARP jobs board can then filter their searches to show vacancies from pledge signers.
In a tight job market, non-traditional workers represent a vastly underutilized pool of labor. Companies should encourage applications from diverse groups of candidates and strive to remove barriers to employing people of all ages.
There’s never been a better time to embrace a multi-generational workforce. Attracting those valuable employees will be well worth your time and effort, and The HR Team is here to help. Please contact our experienced professionals for more information.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability.