Why You Should Hire Older Workers

It’s true that the over-55 set might not be as up to speed on programming the latest iPhone apps as their younger colleagues. But if you receive job applications from older candidates, they’re well worth bringing in for interviews. The conventional wisdom about older workers is more wrong than you might think: Here are a number of reasons why older workers could be great for your business.

They understand the concept of loyalty to an employer. Older workers grew up in a time when you were a “company man” for life. While many younger employees will flit from one job to another every couple of years, the older generation typically focuses more on building a long-term relationship with one employer. When you hire an older worker, she’ll likely be happy to stick by your side until she retires: According to the Department of Labor, workers aged 45 to 54 stayed at a workplace twice as long as those between 25 and 34.

They know what they’re talking about. Workers over 55 have decades of experience in the workforce, and have learned to adapt to considerable changes, including the rise of the Internet and several economic recessions. If your company is faced with a challenge, they’ll have a wealth of knowledge to draw on to help you come up with an effective solution.

They’re connected. Employees who’ve spent more than 30 years in the workforce have likely made many friends and work connections that could prove valuable to you. Don’t hesitate to ask for introductions to people who might serve well as vendors, clients, or employees.

They have fewer family obligations than most younger workers. Many employees in their 30s and 40s are juggling their work life with a commitment to raising young children, so the job often takes a backseat to family commitments. When you hire employees in their 50s or 60s, their children are typically old enough to take care of themselves, and they’re free to make work a top priority.

They’re more interested in their jobs. While you might think older workers would have a “been-there, done-that” attitude to their jobs, the opposite is actually true: The Sloan Center on Aging & Work found that employees who worked past retirement age became more engaged with their jobs over time.

They’re willing to compromise. Workers over 55 have been hit hard by the economic recession and are finding it more difficult than their younger counterparts to land new jobs: The jobless rate among such workers is currently 6.5 percent, and more than half of all workers over 55 have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. As a result, older workers may be more willing than younger ones to take on unpleasant tasks with a smile, and could be more open to salary negotiations than you’d expect.

About Kathryn Hawkins

Kathryn Hawkins is a principal at the content marketing agency Eucalypt Media. She's written about business, marketing, and entrepreneurship for publications including BNET, TheAtlantic.com, Inc.com, and owns and operates the positive news site Gimundo. Follow her on Twitter at @kathrynhawkins.
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  1. [...] As projected by the 2010 Census, the future age structure of the U.S. population will be older than it is now. As the U.S. Population Profile details, “This increasing median age is driven by the aging of the population born during the Baby Boom after World War II (1946 to 1964). As this population ages, the median age will rise. People born during the Baby Boom will be between 36 and 54 years old at the turn of the century. In 2011, the first members of the Baby Boom will reach age 65.” Those customers entering your store could very well be a part of the daily 8,000 baby boomers turning 65. Who best to work with customers than somebody who can relate? If that isn’t enough, Inuit’s Small Business Blog list five valid reasons you should reconsider the average age of your staff. [...]

  2. [...] Finding and keeping employment was a struggle for much of the U.S. during the recent recession, and for older workers it was even harder, as, “the unemployment rate for those age 55 and older rose to 5.9 percent in January 2009,” according to U.S. News and World Report. But while older workers are being kept on the unemployment line or forced into early retirement, businesses are running out of potential candidates. As projected by the 2010 Census, the future age structure of the U.S. population will be older than it is now. The U.S. Population Profile details, “This increasing median age is driven by the aging of the population born during the Baby Boom after World War II (1946 to 1964). As this population ages, the median age will rise.” Do you want to run the risk of running out of eligible candidates because you are looking within a certain age bracket, especially with the median age rising? Inuit’s Small Business Blog lists five valid reasons you should reconsider the average age of your staff. [...]