What to Consider When Hiring Older Employees

hiring older employees
In a world where attracting Millennials and Gen Z is the trend, here are the things you should consider when hiring older employees.
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The sudden appearance of Covid-19 brings a lot of disruptions into our lives, including redundancy, switching jobs and delays in retirement for senior employees. 

When companies were forced to close, many were struggling to sustain their businesses. Employers had to cut their expenditures, forcing them to cut or delay employees’ salaries. Worse, they had to dismiss some of their workers. 

During the pandemic, the unemployment rate in the U.S. for employees who are 55 years old and older is far greater than those of mid-career employees. A study by Retirement Equity Lab found a slow recovery for senior employees who lost their jobs.

Senior employees lost their jobs faster and returned to work slower compared to the mid-career employees. The six-month average unemployment rate of older employees is 9.7%, while the mid-career employees’ is 8.6% — creating a 1.1% unemployment gap.

Besides losing their jobs, some older employees might have to delay their retirement plans due to financial issues. Some of them might have already retired but had to return to work to survive. 

As a result, you might see older candidates applying for jobs in your company. Would you proceed in hiring older employees? If you’re still unsure, these are the things that you should consider:

They have practical knowledge and expertise

hiring older employees with skills

Senior workers are experienced, so you don’t have to spend extra money and time to train them. They’re familiar with a wide range of software and have better communication skills.

Some of your older employees may have worked in various industries and companies, which is a plus point. They could offer fresh insight into your organisation. Furthermore, they could be excellent trainers, consultants and coaches — helping your company to grow.

For some industries like watchmaking and jewellery, it takes decades to master technical skills. Hence, there’s no doubt that hiring older employees would be great for your firm.

They will work with you longer than younger employees

According to the American Working Conditions Survey, older employees are generally more satisfied with life than younger ones. They’re tend to find a job that’s fulfilling. Hence, when they do find that dream job, they’re more likely to stay on the job. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has summarised in their 2020 Employee Tenure that the median employee tenure was generally higher among senior workers than the younger ones. 

The median tenure for employees ages 55 to 64 is 9.9 years, more than three times compared to employees ages 25 to 34 years, which is 2.8 years.

Therefore, employing older workers play an important role in your retention rate. 

They are less competitive

Older employees who are satisfied with their personal and work lives are less competitive. So, they may be less productive and less desire to learn new things.

However, they won’t create tension in their team. Most of the time, they’re not comparing themselves with others or participating in office politics. Hence, senior employees are more likely to maintain good team morale and focus on their job.

They are mature and have a good work ethic

ethics of older employees

Maturity offers many positive aspects at work. Senior employees are aware of the work quality they should deliver. They’re less entitled and clearly understand how the corporate world functions. 

So, you don’t have to chase them to submit their tasks as they respect deadlines. They’re smart, work hard, know how to prioritise and manage their time well. Older employees would be good role models for the younger ones.

They’re good at solving problems

With their maturity, calmness and experience in tackling issues, hiring older employees could help solve your workplace problems — be it difficult business decisions or internal conflict.

They could be cost-effective

Some younger employees have a casual approach to completing their tasks. Usually with the “as-long-as-it-gets-done” mindset. Senior employees tend to work on the job right away once being assigned to them.

They don’t procrastinate often, show up to the office on time and are less likely to apply for leave. Furthermore, they could pass on their knowledge and experience to younger employees.

Adapting to new technology would be challenging for them

senior employees struggle with technology

Most people who get used to working with the same software or systems for a long time may struggle to adapt to new ones. Unlike young workers, older employees need more time to learn and get familiar with new technology. 

They may find it uncomfortable as well as they have no choice but to comply. In such cases, their manager should discuss how they feel about the new technology, guide them and find the solution together.

Advise young managers to respect older employees

Older employees tend to command respect from others, especially from youngsters. Sometimes, senior workers may have a younger manager, which could make them doubt if the person is suitable to be their boss (in terms of skills and experience).

The situation may get even tenser if older employees aren’t following the instructions given by the manager. To prevent this issue, it’s essential to advise managers on how they talk, instruct and discuss with older employees. They must be careful with their tone of voice not to be demanding or condescending.

Here are some tips for young managers to get along with their senior employees: 

  • Respect them and get to know them personally
  • Admit that they have more experience than you and you’ll be asking for their feedback
  • Involve them in the decision-making process
  • Encourage them to pursue career growth 
  • Be open-minded

Wrapping up

These are some things to consider when hiring older employees. Of course, there are pros and cons to it. But, when it comes to hiring, recruiters should hire people based on their ability and qualifications rather than focusing on age. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the candidate that matters. 

Dennis Zink, a Certified Value Builder and SCORE mentor stated, “The optimal workplace uses workers of varying ages, working productively together and maximising their skill sets.”

Senior workers will be a great addition to your workforce and organisation.

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