5 Good Reasons to Hire Older Workers

A strong work ethic, loyalty and communications skills are just a few reasons you may want to hire an older worker over a younger one.
Freelance writer/editor/producer, Various online and print publications
July 16, 2013

Older workers may not have the same tech-savvy skills their younger colleagues do, but they have years of experience you can't teach or replace.

During the economic recession, more attention was placed on hiring less costly younger workers. Companies had smaller budgets, which led to "many people [getting] promoted into management positions with little experience. But a good worker doesn’t equate to an effective manager, and some promotions hurt office morale and led to high turnover," writes Donna Fuscaldo at Fox Business.

Fuscaldo explains that as the economy gets better, "Companies are now looking to hire people with robust management experience, which means older workers are now in demand."

To stay competitive in today's workforce, Philip Lenowitz, deputy director in the office of human resources at the National Institutes of Health, says that companies need to make an effort attracting and retaining older workers. NIH was recently ranked as having the best retirement program in the country, and 47 percent of its workers are older than the age of 50. The company regularly hosts training courses and job fairs aimed specifically at attracting older, more experienced talent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020, approximately 25 percent of the workforce—that's one in four—will be age 55 or older. Here are a few key advantages in hiring and retaining older workers:

1. They have good leadership skills. Older workers make good leaders because they often have stronger communication skills than their younger colleagues.

"Older workers remember a time when communication wasn’t dominated by e-mail, instant messaging, texting or social media," writes Debi Ritter at Corp Magazine. "As a result, they have advanced communication and people skills ... face-to-face communication is an essential skill in the business world and one that junior staff sometimes struggles with; they could benefit from having a mentor."

2. They know what they want. Older people have been working their entire lives and are often not searching for the next opportunity like younger workers. "Companies invest countless man hours and financial resources into the screening, hiring and training of new employees, only to find that many employees leave for 'greener pastures' after a few months as they ascend through their career path," Ritter says. "Older workers tend to be more interested in stability where a recent college graduate might be most concerned about moving up the corporate ladder as quickly as possible."

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project, 54 percent of workers older than 65 are still employed because they want to be—not because they need the money. This means that they're motivated by desire or passion and are less likely to be a job hopper. The survey also found that 54 percent of workers age 65 and older say they are “completely satisfied” with their jobs, compared with just 29 percent of workers ages 16 to 64.

3. They're loyal. Since older workers are typically more satisfied with their jobs, they also tend to stay longer. According to a report published by the BLS, "the length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job." The report found that tenure for workers with their current employer was highest for the oldest workers at 10.2 years. For those between the ages of 55 and 64, this number was 9.9 years and 7.6 years for those between 45 and 54 years old.

4. They have a good work ethic. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey, "Nearly six in 10  respondents cited work ethic as one of the big differences between young and old. Asked who has the better work ethic, about three-fourths of respondents said that older people do."

In a report published by Randstad Work Solutions, 90 percent of the respondents who were older said that being "ethical" is "extremely or very important" to workplace culture, whereas 83 percent of Gen X workers and 66 percent of Gen Y workers agreed.

5. They have strong networks. Older workers have been in the workforce longer and they've had more time to meet people and network along the way. According to a study conducted by The Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, 46.3 percent of employer respondents said that their older employees have stronger professional networks and client networks compared to 30 percent who said the same about their younger workers

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