The recruitment of older workers is the secret strategy for many successful companies. They are in tune with a dynamic change that is taking place in the workforce as eighty million skilled and experienced baby-boomers (those born between 1946-1964) reach retirement age. We are losing 4 million experienced workers who have amazing specific skill sets, networks of professional contacts and a wide array of knowledge of business and organizations each year. This huge wave of departing older workers will increase the existing skill gap. Some companies, being aware of this, are taking advantage and actively setting up policies for the recruitment of older workers and this strategy is proving to be quite successful.
While recently attending the Montreal Start Up fest, a great event and a great turn out with 3400 attendees, one of the most successful arenas at the event is the “grandmother judges”;where start ups pitch their ideas to 6 grandmothers. This is said to be the hardest and most difficult panel to impress and also the most valuable. Not only does this generation have an impact on the success of products given their increasingly large demographic but their wealth of experience provides great advice and perspective.
There are many examples of companies that are harnessing the power of the older generation to help increase their bottom line:
Home Depot: Older workers for customer service
Visiting your local Home Depot you will see older workers on the front line helping customers. At Home Depot these workers are encouraged to apply their life-long experiences in home ownership and do it yourself projects to help in their retail role. In fact, according to Stephen Holmes, a Home Depot spokesman (MSN Money, 4/9/2013) Older workers are among the most reliable and are the ones that customers often gravitate towards.
ESW inc.: Recruiting with 25-30 year experience
ESW Incorporated, honored by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest growing companies, has also been recognized by the American Legion with the Award of employment of Older Workers. In fact, their staff age ranges between 50-to the mid 80s and they actively search for employees with between 25-30 years of work experience. The company is so successful that 95 percent of its business comes from repeat clients (Inc. 08/20/2008)
Vita Needle Company of Boston: Older workers in the shipping department
At the Vita Needle Company of Boston, nearly half the employees who produce, package, and ship orders at the maker of stainless steel needles and tubing are over 65; the median age is 73. At Vita Needle, employing older workers is viewed as a significant cost-saver. Most members of the 49-person workforce are part-time, with starting pay a few dollars above minimum wage, with no health insurance, sick pay, or retirement benefits. It works because most of the older workers are covered by Medicare and draw income from Social Security. So not only are they hardworking, dependable and experienced but also quite cost effective.
The notion of employing older workers is growing in popularity, according to a 2011 study by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a business analysis company. It found a majority of corporate executives see the increased longevity of workers more as a business opportunity than a liability (Boston Globe March 31, 2012)
Older workers are in vogue and in demand. Companies are aggressively pursuing those 65 and older who do not need to be trained and can come in and start performing immediately. (Fox Business, May 3 2013). Saving time and money on training and lower turnover rates could positively impact your company’s bottom line. Older workers have great experience and have learned over the years to be more efficient which also contributes to the bottom line, they also tend to have excellent communication skills and are very good at being diplomatic. Older workers are excellent role models and have an easier time training others. They also tend to be punctual and highly dedicated.