Older workers possess a massive experience that you can't teach or even replace.
Even though the law is clear employers are not supposed to discriminate based on age, getting a job can be challenging once you are considered “old”. And you don’t need to grow gray hair to be considered old. If you are 40+, you are old.
According to a recent survey done AARP, a whopping 64% of employees report having a difficult time getting hired or retaining their jobs due to age discrimination. For instance, in the tech industry, most startups bluntly ask older candidates not to apply in their job advertisement.
Furthermore, companies use sneaky ways to get rid of older employees. They include:
- Job elimination: However, the truth is the company is not really eliminating the job, rather it’s just an excuse to change the job title and hire someone younger in your former position.
- Layoff: More often, it would be a massive layoff for older employees and they would include a few younger employees to coverup the age discrimination.
- Early retirement: Employers also force out the older staff by offering them an early retirement package; in most cases, the incentive is too good to pass up.
- Denying you opportunities for advancement: Isn’t it age discrimination if an employer denies you a promotion just because you will retire soon?
- Cutting hours and job duties: The last nail on the coffin is to reduce hours to starve senior employees to death, cut job duties, limit their authority and humiliate them with low-level tasks to force them to quit.
These kinds of age discrimination and many others persist because many employers live by the notion that compared to younger workers, older employees lack the resilience to be trained, are not flexible and cannot adapt to emerging technological changes quickly.
According to a research done by London Business School, this is a misconception and there is no better time to dispel such kind of thinking that now. To set the record straight, an increasing number of Older workers are going back to school to advance their skills, obtain certification and are embracing technology enthusiastically just as their younger counterparts.
In this post, we will explore how the older workforce adds gravitas to a business, and why everyone loses when they are forced out. So, what value do baby boomers bring to the workplace?
What Baby Boomers Bring to Workplace
It’s no secret that millennials are leaving their jobs at a worryingly higher rate. Unlike older generations, 58% of millennials do not want to get stuck in the same job. They are likely to shift careers in three years’ time or less consequently resulting in an unnecessary employee turnover within an organisation.
The subsequent employee replacement costs which include; search for a suitable substitute from the external labor market, selection, induction, and training of the new employee until he attains a desired level of performance can very expensive for your business.
Nevertheless, a BLS report indicates that tenure for employees with their present employers tends to be highest among the oldest workers. This is because older workers inherently understand the value of committing fully to a cause they believe in and investing in it to success.
Honesty is one of the vital build blocks in business, and the common thing about older workers is that they tend to honest in every endeavor. Since baby boomers hold personal integrity close to heart, they make great business leaders. While this not to insinuate that young people take moral shortcuts, a survey done by CIFAS in 2010 revealed that younger staff are more likely to engage in fraud.
With all online diversions i.e. chatting and texting competing for the millennials attention, focus is a rare commodity among them. Whereas it’s true they can juggle around and get work done in fragments, older workers are less distracted and are more reliable for tasks that require focus and attention to details.
On the other hand, while millennials simply want to do their part at work and leave, baby boomers derive their sense of pride from the final product and they are often willing to go an extra mile to get a job well done.
Other studies also reveal that older workers serve diligently, respect authority, are team players and in most cases don’t require close supervision. These are valuable qualities every employer would want to consider.
- Less Absence
Lest we forget, the myth we need to demystify right away here is that baby boomers are often away from work more than the younger workforce. You see, It’s rare that an older worker will need to leave work early, for instance, to go and pick up their unwell child from school, or even take several months of maternity/paternity leave.
A survey done by an insurance company indicates that the opposite is true; young employees take twice as much time off, and can even fake sickness to be away from work. On the contrary, older workers are less likely to be on leave for minor ailments like the common cold and are usually quicker to return to work even after a major illness.
There is no better way to emphasize that excellent skills in dealing with people and problem-solving is a plus for any business. While the younger generation can bring the much-needed energy and new ideas, they easily get “rattled” when problems occur at work.
On the other hand, older employees know how to cope up with workplace politics and they can be trusted to handle issues diplomatically. They know what to say, when to say it, and how to say it appropriately. This attributed to the knowledge and experience they have acquired over time working in their particular industry.
- Strong Networks
As you can rightly guess a strong network is key in growing a business. Since older employees have been around the block for some time, chances are they have made more friends and acquaintances. Such networks are a priceless resource to enable your business access new clients and help you tap into opportunities that you would not otherwise get hold of.
- Reduced labor costs
Chances are most older workers are already covered by insurance plans from their previous employers. They could also be having an extra source of income. That said, they don’t mind accepting a little less to get a job that will create an impact they desire. They know there is much more to work than just a paycheck.
- Role models/Mentorship
It may take a couple of hours for a trainee to know how an energy pump operates, but it will require many years of experience to tell from a sound that a pump is not functioning correctly. The sure way to make the learning process faster is to engage someone with a rich experience to share his skills.
Similarly, older workers have a superior understanding of proven ways of getting a job done efficiently and this is an intangible value your business would appreciate. As such, they make awesome mentors train and guide the younger employees.
When generations work as a team everyone benefits. The mentees acquire new knowledge and skills, as well the mentor gets rejuvenated and reengaged in business opportunities
Beyond the ethical issues of how older workers are treated. As a business owner, you need a reliable and steady workforce that has no plans to move up and out. You need employees who will remain dedicated to their job and take pride in their work. Workers who will cost you less resources to hire, train and even maintain.
The next time you are recruiting you need to reconsider the costs associated with high turnover among younger employees vs. the fruits of experience and mature standards baby boomers bring to your workplace. The truth is, older workers contribution to your business could have a great positive impact on your bottom line for many years to come.
Eric Czerwonka is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Buddy Punch, a software company founded in 2013 that provides time tracking solutions for startups, companies with employees, as well as anyone with a remote team to manage.
In the future, Eric hopes to continue to fit each problem with the correct solution through the use of technology as well as innovation. Eric also holds a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.