written by: Dr. Ranee Kaur Banerjee•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/4/2011
Many business owners and HR recruiters shy away from hiring older workers. In the process, they lose out on the tremendous value older employees can add to their organizations. Here are some ways your company can benefit from the expertise and experience of a more mature workforce.
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The Cons of Hiring Older Employees
Over the years, I've heard all the reasons why HR managers hesitate to employ older employees. Some of the major ones are:
They are entrenched in a lifestyle and will not change their ways easily
They may be less conversant with technology and would find it more difficult to learn new methods and machines
You’ll have to offer them a bigger pay packet than a young recruit would demand
They would have more health issues and days off
They have lesser years to give to the company
They may not agree to frequent travelling and / or relocation
They are likely to be slower and less energetic than a youthful worker
They may not be as enthusiastic on the job as a fresh new graduate at the beginning of his career
I say this because there are some extremely important qualities that an older employee will always bring with her to your organization and those attributes will add tremendous value to your company. No young person can ever learn these traits from any educational program in the world, however reputed or expensive it may be.
Because there are some lessons only living life can teach you.
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An older worker comes to you with skill and expertise gained through practical experience. She has internalized and assimilated more awareness and understanding than a youngster through actual doing rather than studying. The theories a young person has learnt in school have been applied time and again by an older person.
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Life has brought emotional stability to a mature employee. Young people are more prone to emotional highs and lows and may over-react to interpersonal situations at work. Maturity is a great advantage to an older employee because it gives her crisis management and problem solving skills. She can negotiate office politics with more equanimity and work well in groups because she can communicate with confidence more often than not. She is thus more likely to articulate her point of view and share her thoughts with her superiors. Also, she is less easily intimidated than someone who has not yet “been there" and “done that."
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The Power of Patience and Perseverence
Although it is not always true that a more mature employee lacks ambition, it is true that youngsters are more impatient and in much more of a hurry to climb the corporate ladder. This is natural because they still have a career to make. An older employee is less hungry and more patient. She has, by now, probably realized her limits and is more realistic about her personal goals. This makes her more cooperative and less competitive and she is more likely to be the ideal team player who will work more for the company bottom-line than her own.
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Efficiency and Consistency
Slower she may be than a 20-something, but her experience and commitment to her work makes her more efficient, hard-working and consistent in her productivity. A mature worker will probably also be more punctual, regular, reliable and deadline conscious. She will leave less to luck and chance and can plan her time better because she know her own pace.
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Concentration and Pride
She is better able to focus on the work at hand and the pride she takes in her abilities and her work ethics won’t let her turn in shoddy or careless work. Before she puts her signature on any document, she would probably take the trouble of checking every element and facet so that it is error free.
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Stress-Management and Multi-tasking
The older worker is also better at multitasking and will probably be less stressed when asked to handle several simultaneous tasks. In the long run, her superior abilities to manage her time and tasks will save your organization time and money.
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The Ability to Say “No" and Make Good Decisions
Last, but not the least, the 40+ employee will not hesitate to take tough decisions. Over the years, she has learnt how to listen to her inner voice and say “no" without hurting feelings or closing doors. This characteristic makes her invaluable to your business.
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If I were asked to succinctly summarize the value of older employees, I would simply point out to you the assets of life experience that they will bring to you.
I can promise you that their life experiences will benefit your business in myriad ways.