The labor market is tight. Candidates have the power and can dictate where and when they will work, and for how much compensation.
Sometimes the labor shortage makes hiring for open positions nearly impossible. However, for the right positions, older workers might be a better fit and there is a large pool of retirees who may be enticed back into the labor force.
The Great Resignation includes the people who retired rather than continue working or seeking work, especially in the early phases of the pandemic. According to an analysis conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, the percentage of the population that is retired increased 1.3 percentage points between February 2020 and June 2021. Between 2010 and 2020, the increase was only .3 percent.
Tapping into this large pool of potential employees can offer benefits to companies willing to hire older workers.
Older workers have seen and done a lot. They have dealt with work challenges and have overcome them, they have figured out how to deal with difficult peers and clients, they have handled projects that have gone off the rails and brought them back in line. They can bring a sense of resilience to a project team that will benefit everyone.
Generational diversity improves a company’s bottom line. People with decades of experience will bring a different perspective to the team. They understand long-term planning in a way that a recent college grad can’t yet grasp. They better understand the complexity of weekly, monthly, and longer-term processes to get to the successful end of a project.
They provide historical context gained from their years of work and life experience. They have knowledge and self-confidence. By virtue of having more experience in work and life, many older people are natural mentors or coaches. They want to pass on what they know, and they want to help their younger co-workers become successful. Younger employees who can take advantage of this will benefit themselves and the company as well.
Many older people are not “stuck in their ways” nor technological Luddites. They have a track record for working at companies large and small, from startups to corporations. Their curiosity urges them forward to learn new things and embrace new ideas. They tend to be more reliable, take fewer days off, and aren’t looking to job switch in order to continue advancing their career.
Like any other employee, they want meaningful work in an inclusive environment where they feel that they are valued and are having an impact. Before the pandemic, ageism was forcing older workers into retirement, but they may be the very people who can move us over the finish line for hiring employees who will make a difference.