By Debi Ritter
April 19, 2012
Older workers are a talented segment of the workforce that has historically been underutilized. Hiring members from this labor pool is an easy and cost-effective way to bring always needed expertise and leadership into a company. If you're looking to hire a new employee, an older worker may be your best choice.
Below are six ways older employees add value to an organization.
Dedication and Loyalty
A major advantage older workers have is they work because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. Older workers look forward to going to work each day, making them more likely to be punctual, dedicated and apt to do a good job. Plus, many of them spent the bulk of their careers in a time when changing jobs was less prevalent, which enhances their loyalty.
Less Risky Hire
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. Older workers tend to be more interested in stability where a recent college graduate might be most concerned about moving up the corporate ladder quickly as possible.
The U.S. economy and many industries are cyclical and older workers have experienced the highs and lows, making them more the wiser. Remember the Great Recession and housing market crash of 2008? It was something the country experienced in the early 1980s, during which senior members of the workforce learned valuable lessons that helped them weather the recent economic storm and prepare their companies for the next one.
There is still something to be said about someone who comes to work in a tailored suit, neatly pressed shirt and freshly shines shoes. It's important to have positive role models within an organization who know how to present themselves well and will positively represent your company to the public. Plus, older workers were raised to respect authority and be more self-reliant, needing little supervision.
Superior Communication Skills
Older workers remember a time where communication wasn't dominated by e-mail, instant messaging, texting or social media. As a result, they have advanced communication and people skills and know the value of sending hand-written thank you notes to clients and referral sources. Face-to-face communication is an essential skill in business world and one where junior staffers sometimes struggle and could benefit from having a mentor.
They're the Same Age as Clients
Many business owners and executives are older than 65. Recent research has shown that customers prefer to interact with people their age. If you hire older workers, your clients will notice and appreciate it.
With the positive attributes listed above, it's easy to see why I frequently look to older workers to fill key positions. They bring many intangible skills to the workplace that cannot be taught in school and will rub off on junior staffers.
Debi Ritter is Director of Human Resources for UHY LLP, one of the nation's 25 largest accounting firms that has been one of "Metropolitan Detroit's 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For" eight years in a row. She is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources and has nearly 20 years of HR management experience. She can be reached at www.uhyllp-us.com.