September 5, 2012

Working After Retirement: We Are a Good Bet

I am on vacation starting today...our first ever RV trip. I will post reactions and pictures over the next several days. But in the meantime, I received a request from Jay Smith at On Line Business Degree to share the following post with you.

As I continue to go through the responses you have sent me for my next book, I am struck by the number of times folks are talking about going back to work in some form or another after full retirement. This article shares some excellent points about the strengths those of us in our satisfying retirement time of life can bring to a potential employer.

You may be aware of the oncoming “silver tsunami,” which refers to the global aging of the earth’s population. Right now, about 28% of the U.S. population is 50 or older; by 2025, that figure is predicted to increase to more than 35%. By 2030, the global workforce over the age of 55 will rise to 22%. Despite these numbers, it is much harder for an unemployed older worker to get hired than a younger worker. However, over time this could change, as stereotypes about senior citizens are debunked, and more employers come to understand that hiring older workers is actually good for the bottom line. With that in mind, here are six reasons why hiring an older worker is a smart investment.

  1. Punctuality

    Older workers are more likely to show up on time, ready to work. Older workers understand that the work flow of a business, be it small or a huge corporation, relies on employees clocking in and clocking out at prescribed times. Being punctual can serve as an example to younger workers. Many older workers work because they want to, not because they have to, and their enthusiasm for a job that values their skills and helps them remain active means they’re apt to show up on time, ready to go.
  2. Strong communication skills

    Many believe social networking, instant messaging, and email has hurt the communication skills of younger workers and devalued the role that interpersonal skills play in the workplace. Older workers, who came up before the advent of Facebook, can mentor younger workers in the art of face-to-face communication. Older workers also value and expect good customer service, and as an employee, will assume that such service is expected of them.
  3. Employee loyalty and longevity

    Younger 21st century workers are more likely to move from one job to another. Long-term loyalty to a single employer isn’t a part of the world they grew up in; acquisitions, layoffs, and a culture that embraces mobility are the norm. On the other hand, older workers tend to stick with a job, saving the employer the high cost of hiring and training a replacement.
  4. Hiring older workers saves you money

    There’s an assumption among many employers that it is more expensive to employ older as opposed to younger workers. However, the differences in compensation costs are negligible, although an employer should look closely at what their insurance carrier offers in order to determine what those costs will be. Older workers generally have fewer dependents and take fewer sick days, two factors that, along with a commitment to punctuality and job performance, will ultimately save an employer money.
  5. Efficiency

    Older workers will draw upon their years of experience in the work force in order to make their and everyone’s job more efficient. The stereotype that says older workers are “slow” to catch on, especially in the digital age, doesn’t hold up when you consider they have years of technical know-how and experience to bring to the workplace. Getting the job done correctly and efficiently has always been key to being a good employee.
  6. Wisdom:

    There’s really no substitute for life and work experience; the combination of the two is commonly known as wisdom. Thanks to years of accumulated wisdom, older workers are more likely to keep their cool when a customer is freaking out, stay calm when the server crashes and data is lost, and offer support to a co-worker who is caving in under stress. Hiring an older team member or two, or three, or more, is a great way to take advantage of the full range of life experiences that only a diverse group can offer.

Thank you to Jay and the writers at On line Business Degree.  For full disclaimer purposes I am receiving no compensation for running this article.


  1. Bob, couldn't agree more with the points made in your posts. Some of the best hires I ever made in the Sales field were those 55 and over, while some of the worst were younger. Not pigeon holing the two groups, just pointing out that point of your article is true from my own experience. I struggle to see how many of our younger people are going to make it in life - no work ethic, inability to make their points (comments like "you know", especially with great frequency, drive me nuts), and a commitment to success that is lacking. Have to make sure we older folks stay in good shape and can keep it going work-wise, for the sake of the competitive stance of this country.

    1. One of the biggest differences I see between younger workers and those of us with some gray in our hair is that the idea of a career seems foreign to many younger folks. A job, followed by another job, and so on seems to be the more normal course. My father's generation and ours worked toward a goal of advancing to a particular level in a my case radio consulting and research.

      I could agree that the change to a job-oriented outlook has been caused by the failure of many companies to protect their workers. Why invest years in a career path only to have bankruptcy wipe everything out?

      But, regardless of the motivation, a jobs mindset seems much more common today. If true, I think that affects motivation and employee longevity.

  2. I tend to disagree on the assessment of the newest generation. Those who have jobs, work hard to keep them. Almost all of the people who want to work in my extended family are working. I would say that my son and son in law have excellent work ethic. They do not communicate the same way we did, but then we were not on call 24/7 with phones buzzing whenever another person was awake.
    I think older workers are a good bet because those who want to work will work hard. I have to admit though-- I have little commitment to the job I have taken (even though I am there about 14 hours a day). If it ended tomorrow there would be no sorrow in my heart.
    I do think older workers are keeping the next generation from getting starting jobs or rising. I am sorry they have not saved the money they should have. I feel equally sorry for the 28 yr old who cannot get into the door because someone with 28 years of experience pushes past them in the "beginning" interview.

    1. You make some good points, Janette. There is the issue of older workers not retiring and causing problems for the younger workers. This article was more targeted to encouraging older, out-of-work folks to use their strengths to land a job.

      Yes, there are plenty of younger folks who work hard and have a path to success. But, just as an observation, I see too many of the other type to make me comfortable.


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