Talent agents, HR managers and organisations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits that come from creating working environments that are diverse in age demographics. Multi-generational workplaces are rich in experience and maturity as well as youthful exuberance.
COVID-19 and volatile financial markets have affected many people’s retirement nest eggs, and the simple fact that people are living longer, means that seniors are choosing to work longer than ever before. Even those who have already retired are re-entering the workforce for financial security or to stave off boredom.
This is great news for businesses in search of employees, as retirees and seniors often possess traits and job skills that make them excellent employees.
According to Ageing in the Workforce – a Virtual Roundtable, one in five seniors felt the pandemic has impacted their retirement plans. Three in four suggest they would keep working indefinitely (if they were well supported and had flexible working conditions) and two in five report making a career change since the age of 50.
It’s time for a cultural workforce wake-up call.
Why Hiring Seniors Has Its Advantages
When it comes to hiring, smart employers know that it’s not about age. Talent is talent and now more than ever, employers need to open their eyes to the advantages that come from hiring people with decades of hard-wired knowledge.
Experience gives an employee an edge that no new starter can offer. Experienced workers can hit the ground running, putting into practice those honed critical thinking skills. Technologies and applications can be taught, but decision-making is something that comes after years of practice.
Reliability and strong work ethic
Reliability isn’t just about finishing what you’ve been told to do in a timely manner. More often than not, it refers to your ability to manage your workload and know when to say no or when to ask for help. Proving yourself reliable takes time and a strong work ethic, which comes from valuable learnings throughout your career and an understanding of one’s strengths.
A good work ethic doesn’t mean exhausting yourself or blindly doing other people’s work, rather, it means applying yourself and your skills in the most effective and rewarding way possible.
Loyalty and stability
Research suggests that workers under the age of 34 are twice as likely to leave a job because they want a change of scenery, their lifestyle has changed, or they are chasing better working conditions. As seniors are more settled, they are not as likely to jump jobs when a new opportunity arises.
Businesses invest a huge amount of hours and financial resources into the screening, hiring and training of new employees so it pays to employ people who are loyal and stable and less likely to move on.
Older workers are generally proactive, positive and practical and when their unique skills are nurtured in a mixed-age workforce, everyone can grow. Companies that value knowledge, experience and skill over age, seniority or gender can create mentoring opportunities that allow everybody to teach, share and learn from one another.
Workers who have been on the job for years are often good leaders due to their intrinsic communication skills. Relationships haven’t always been dominated by email, software, texting and social media and after years of development, older people often have sharp people skills that translate into great leadership skills.
Older people make up a large segment of the buying public and it makes sense that older employees may know how to market to this group better than younger employees. Marketing to seniors is an often overlooked part of the consumer market and tapping into it can be a great way to grow your business.
Training and developing senior employees
Employee training and development is essential at all stages of a person’s career. Having good skills is crucial to not only career progression but to staying at work longer and managing new trends and technologies.
Skills training and continued professional development don’t always mean learning something new – brushing up on old skills can be just as important. Skills training can be done through on the job learning, mentoring and job rotation, courses and ‘homework’. In many cases, refresher training can pay dividends in terms of improving the productivity of experienced staff.
Employee training programs commonly ignore older workers and this is not only bad for those seeking employment in new fields, it’s bad for business. Many business owners falsely believe there is little point in training older employees because they’ll soon be retiring and it will be a waste of time and resources. Older workers may also lack the formal qualifications that are required to take part in training and career development.
The reality is that experienced workers are eager to acquire additional training and most seniors will likely welcome the opportunity to learn if it’s offered. Three in four over the 50s are currently doing or planning to take control of their careers through training, self-driven learning and reskilling, so find ways to encourage new skills.
Older workers may feel reluctant to ask for training for fear of being rejected, so give all employees a safe space in which they can talk about their training needs. Encourage all staff, no matter their age, to think about their career goals and promote training as an opportunity, rather than a punishment for poor performance or ‘outdated’ skills.
Employ senior workers, implement an inclusive approach to learning and development, and expand your talent pipeline today.