Age discrimination in the workforce is plausible, and many times age can be considered an off the record criteria when choosing who to hire, especially if the candidate is 55 or older. What is the reasoning for this? Simply, money, as older workers tend to cost their employers more than younger workers in the following ways:
- 1) Receive benefits from seniority or accumulated merit raises
- 2) Receive healthcare at higher costs
While to some employers this sounds like smart economics, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in terms, privileges and conditions of employment on the basis of age. And, while legality is a good enough reason to reconsider the value of your older workforce, there are other reasons that make your older employees valuable, and well worth the higher cost.
While finding and keeping employment was a struggle for much of the U.S. during the recent recession, “the unemployment rate for those age 55 and older rose to 5.9 percent in January 2009,” according to the U.S. News and World Report. Yet, three industries found value in hiring and maintaining a 50 plus workforce: healthcare, education and the government. As an independent retailer, who are you looking to hire? Perhaps, something can be learned from the three growing industries that are hiring older employees.
Older Employees Play Valuable Role
As projected by the 2010 Census, the future age structure of the U.S. population will be older than it is now. As the U.S. Population Profile details, “This increasing median age is driven by the aging of the population born during the Baby Boom after World War II (1946 to 1964). As this population ages, the median age will rise. People born during the Baby Boom will be between 36 and 54 years old at the turn of the century. In 2011, the first members of the Baby Boom will reach age 65.” Those customers entering your store could very well be a part of the daily 8,000 baby boomers turning 65. Who best to work with customers than somebody who can relate? If that isn’t enough, Inuit’s Small Business Blog list five valid reasons you should reconsider the average age of your staff.
1) They understand the concept of loyalty. Brought up during a time when the dedicated company man was a way of life, older workers are looking to build a long-term relationship with their employer.
2) They have experience. Experience and time are closely related, and older employees have used their extended time in the workforce to build a wealth of knowledge that could help in times of need.
3) They have a large network of connections. Much like experience, extended time in the workforce doesn’t only help in gaining knowledge, but also with building connections. Business today is all about networking.
4) They have fewer family obligations. The kids have flown the coop and your older employees are sure to be at work and on time with less school cancellations and fevers keeping them home and preoccupied.
5) They are willing to compromise. With job opportunities limited for older workers, they may be more willing to take on the unpleasant tasks. Also, a lifetime of experience and knowledge has taught them to pick their battles.