Why You Should Hire Older Workers

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on May 6, 2011
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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.

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