Is There A Benefit To Hiring Older Workers?


Hiring older workers falls short as emphasis is placed on youth unemployment.  In a research paper printed by Labour Economics [vol. 14, issue 1] it was noted that while many companies employ older workers they do not hire them.

A great deal of companies focus their hiring efforts around graduate or entry level intake. This time of the year the majority of the large corporates will be putting the finishing touches to their milk round, induction and internship plans. All of these are very valid recruitment tools, in addition to the positive PR they bring for the firm, but are these companies missing a trick by not considering older workers for some of these same posts? Here are some ideas we thought worth considering:

1) Cost versus experience?

The benefits of younger and less experienced workers are often considered in terms of their cost and potential longevity with the firm. Although the headline salary cost may be less, the additional cost that training, integration and the higher attrition rate of younger workers may prove that final cost to be far higher. Ensuring that older workers are also considered for posts that are relevant to their skills, ignoring for a moment their experience, can generate a range of positives that should not be overlooked.

2) Reduced risk of a ‘bad hire’.

Experienced workers have a work history that you can validate. Asking specific questions of ex-bosses, colleagues or contemporaries gives a full and varied picture of who you’re going to get. You can discuss their ability to cope with change, manage multiple projects, or whatever aspect of the role that is key to the role you’re hiring for. They are also likely to have experienced work from different personal standpoints and are potentially better equipped to deal with what life throws at them.

3) Dedication and focus.

Research has shown that older workers have a greater sense of pride in a job well done. They tend to rank higher in questions regarding honesty, punctuality and their ability to remain calm under pressure. Older workers often have had the luxury of having tried and tested different roles and settled on doing something they feel passion for. Combined with being comfortable with the office routine this gives them the ‘get up and go’ each morning to perform.

4) Dealing with life.

Younger workers have much more to accomplish in addition to the external pressures they may be facing in life outside of the office. During their 20s and 30s younger workers are often forming the foundations of their personal lives, meeting their partner, buying a house, bringing up children – all in addition to forging a career. Younger workers will also tend to have a more demanding social life than their older peers, which is another consideration, depending of course on the individual.

5) Robust management & leadership skills.

Through their careers, older workers will have faced and worked through a range of situations, problems and successes. They will have seen colleagues succeed and fail and (hopefully) have learned from all of these experiences. They are likely to have developed a management or leadership style that they are comfortable with and that they know will get results.

They will have had the time to hone their own organisational skills and so are less likely to be flustered, late or chaotic. As the economy continues to improve, robust management and leadership skills are going to be in high demand.

6) Culture carriers & example setters.

Hiring an experienced worker who clearly demonstrates the company’s values and beliefs can bring enormous benefit to a firm. The energy and work ethic that corresponds with the vision of the company can help to set the examples and train younger workers by proxy. Whilst it is true that values can be elicited from younger workers, their work practice is yet to be fully molded which means that the right older worker will have a faster impact and return.

7) What is the future for younger workers?

We firmly believe that there is a place for younger workers in every firm and that they bring vital energy and innovation to the workplace. The purpose of this is to provoke thought around why a position is placed in a particular box and to challenge the common perceptions.

Younger workers need to be given the support, leadership and management that will enable them to thrive, grow and develop. This can only be done if there are people from whom they can learn. After all, teaching our younger workforce generation that there is no place for older workers is a lesson that will stay with them and influence their own career choices and businesses.

Till next time,