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Hiring and retaining older workers benefits business

It is a myth that older workers tend to be burned out and less productive than their younger colleagues. Many people in this age group find it takes longer to land a job because of the misconceptions some employers have. Being open minded in your recruiting efforts with the goal to hire the most competent candidates, regardless of age, will produce a more skilled and productive staff, thereby benefitting your business.

Workers over 50 bring value, experience, good work ethic, loyalty and professionalism to the workplace. Employers spend lots of money in advertising, pre-screening, interviewing candidates, hiring and training workers only to find out many new hires are unqualified, short-term and become quickly dissatisfied with the job. Turnover and training costs escalate. Customer service suffers. 

So where can businesses find dependable workers dedicated to the job at hand? The need for a workforce that takes pride in their work, who will cost less to train and will be more stable is a constant issue for all businesses. 

The answer can be found in hiring and retaining older workers. Following are some reasons.

1. Dedicated — Higher quality work will positively impact the bottom line. Dedication and commitment are two of the traits common to older workers.

2. Punctuality — Being on time to work and low levels of absenteeism are ingrained in older workers as most look forward to going to work every day.

3. Honesty — Personal integrity and a devotion to the truth is common among older workers.

4. Detail-oriented, focused and attentive — These qualities in your workforce will save your business thousands of dollars. It also adds intangible value that rubs off on other workers.

5. Good listeners — Listening intently makes for easier training and only needing to be told once what to do.

6. Pride in a job well done — This has become increasingly rare among younger workers today. Older workers are not “9 to 5” employees working only for payday. They have a sense of pride in the product and/or service.

7. Organizational skills — They possess organizational skills that streamline work processes.

8. Confidence — Their age and experience give them a better understanding of how jobs can be done better, saving the company money. They will also more freely share ideas.

9. Maturity — This only comes with years of life experiences. They handle issues without getting rattled.

10. Setting the example — Older workers make excellent mentors and role models. They can enhance on-the-job training of new employees.

11. Communication skills — Understanding workplace politics and being able to diplomatically convey ideas to the manager, co-workers, customers, etc. is an advantage of older workers.

12. Lower labor costs — Many older workers who re-enter the workforce after retirement will work part-time, on call, and on projects as needed. They often have their own health insurance and are not interested in the company’s benefits program. They are often not working just for a paycheck.

Any employer would do well to consider the 12 benefits listed above before dismissing an emphasis on hiring and retention of older workers.

The Older Workers Benefits Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1990 as an amendment to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, is designed to safeguard older workers from age discrimination. In general it prohibits age discrimination in benefits, including health insurance and life insurance, and covers workers over 40 years of age.

People are living longer and are healthier enabling longer productive careers. Many choose to work longer due to financial needs, but there are many who work longer simply because they enjoy their work. They enjoy their job and want to continue interaction with other people. It is a “win-win” situation, benefitting both employee and employer.

Consider the strengths of older workers as outlined above. Experience, patience, confidence, honesty, integrity, dependability, commitment, problem-solving skills, customer service acumen, high ethical standards, professionalism, and many other traits make the older worker stand out as assets to any business.

They can make contributions to your company that will positively impact the bottom line for years.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.