Could Older Workers be the Solution to Your Hiring and Retention Problems?

Could Older Workers be the Solution to Your Hiring and Retention Problems?

The Great Reshuffle continues as the shortage of frontline and hourly workers is still strongly felt across the labor market by industries in the private sector. Organizations are struggling with finding, hiring, and keeping good people yet ageism bias is rampant in the workplace, with many solid job seekers being overlooked. It is time to ask: Are older workers the answer to your hiring and retention issues?

Younger to middle-aged workers up to age 54 tend to look for employment that pays fairly while helping them fulfill their career vision. The mature worker in the 55-80 and beyond category seeks work for somewhat different reasons. Some have moved on from their earlier occupations and many of them will enjoy more years and even decades of good health. This, coupled with the ever-increasing cost of living and the uncertainty about Social Security has many of them rethinking what their futures look like.

Soft Skills and The Older Worker

Compassionate and empathetic. Warm and engaging. Able to size up customer situations charitably, and smoothly resolve service issues. Strong in the areas of relationship building and rapport with their workplace teammates. All qualities that workers aged 50 and up tend to bring to an organization. While every company’s customer service training should include these areas, with more experienced workers many of these soft skills are already in place–skills that are harder to teach than those of a more technical nature. Their customer service motivation tends to be strong. Seasoned in the best possible sense, mature employees can provide knowledge and a greater sense of stability to a team, not to mention loyalty to an organization. And many appreciate the opportunity to mentor younger members of their teams.

A Strong Work Ethic: Getting the Job Done Right

Older Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the post-WWll group aged 78-plus are famous for their strong work ethic. While not opposed to learning how to “work smarter” the idea of not working as hard is not in their collective wheelhouse. Generally speaking, they are already in the habit of showing up on time, meeting their deadlines, and are willing to spend additional time and effort to do something right. It is more of a “best it can be” approach than an “it’s good enough” mindset. Especially with the increasing use of AI for customer experience, our world offers increasingly quick results.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): A Fresh Perspective on the Over 50 Crowd

Author and executive coach Dethra Giles believes many in HR overly focus on technical proficiencies when considering job applicants, despite that many older people are eager to learn and continue participating in today’s workplace. Worse, they assume older candidates might not have the ability to learn new technologies. Yet of the Baby Boomer generation in particular, two-thirds hold a college degree. They have strong entrepreneurial leanings and are twice as likely as Millennials to form new businesses. And since they aren’t necessarily looking for their next big career move, they are more likely to stick around, improving an organization’s employee retention rate.

Research is showing the main predictors of job performance–knowledge and expertise–keep increasing even into the eighth decade of life. For reasons including and beyond DEI, bringing more experienced employees on board is something to consider.

8 Ways to Attract Experienced Workers to Your Organization

In a recent Forbes article, Sara Zeff Geber, Ph.D. shared seven ways to attract and keep more highly experienced workers, based on an Activated Insights survey of 35,000 older workers in the US:

  • Offer meaningful roles connected to the organization’s mission
  • Think beyond rigid schedules; provide flexible scheduling
  • Make sure value and level of work matter more than tenure at the company
  • Shift leader mindset from transactional to one of empathetic engagement
  • Create the best environment with physical accommodations when needed
  • Encourage open and respectful communication among age groups
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy for ageism; highlight older workers as well as younger
  • Add fun to the mix, encouraging camaraderie within the work community

John R. DiJulius III, author of The Customer Service Revolution,> is president of The DiJulius Group, a customer service consulting firm that works with companies including Starbucks, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Nestle, PwC, Lexus, and many more. Contact him at 216-839-1430 or

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