Value Of Older Workers

Age discrimination may sound like smart economics, as older workers 55 and up tend to cost employers more than younger workers in the following ways:

1) Receive benefits from seniority or accumulated merit raises.

2) Receive healthcare at higher costs.

However, 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 extra cost.

Finding and keeping employment was a struggle for much of the U.S. during the recent recession, and for older workers it was even harder, as, “the unemployment rate for those age 55 and older rose to 5.9 percent in January 2009,” according to U.S. News and World Report. But while older workers are being kept on the unemployment line or forced into early retirement, businesses are running out of potential candidates. As projected by the 2010 Census, the future age structure of the U.S. population will be older than it is now. 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.” Do you want to run the risk of running out of eligible candidates because you are looking within a certain age bracket, especially with the median age rising? Inuit’s Small Business Blog lists five valid reasons you should reconsider the average age of your staff.

1) 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) 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) 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) Few 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) 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.