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2 min read

Is your business underestimating the value of older workers?

Is your business underestimating the value of older workers?

The job market remains relatively tight for businesses looking to fill open positions or simply add top talent when the fit is right. That means it’s still important for companies to continuously reassess where they’re looking for applicants and which job candidates they’re focusing on.

In October, global employment nonprofit Generation, in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), released a report entitled The Midcareer Opportunity: Meeting the Challenges of an Ageing Workforce. Its results are based on OECD data along with a survey of thousands of employers, job candidates and employees in the United States and Europe.

Among the eye-opening findings of the report is that responding hiring managers disclosed a strong preference for candidates between the ages of 30 and 44. Applicants between the ages of 45 and 64 were favored least.

Positive attributes

There’s no denying that many Baby Boomers (generally, those born between 1946 and 1964) have retired. And some older members of Generation X (generally, those born between 1965 and 1980) may soon be joining them. Nonetheless, a large contingent of older workers remain active in the workforce. Underestimating the value of these individuals when hiring could represent a costly blind spot for your business.

Older workers tend to share many positive attributes. For starters, they’ve lived and worked through many economic ups and downs, so these workers are usually budget-savvy. In addition, many are well-connected in their fields and can reach out or point to helpful resources your company may be unaware of. Seasoned workers are often self-motivated and need less direct supervision, too.

Onboarding and performance management

Many businesses currently feature workforces largely comprised of Gen Xers, Millennials (generally, those born between 1981 and 1996) and members of Generation Z (generally, those born between 1997 and 2012). Adding older workers to the mix can present challenges to company culture, so adjusting your onboarding process and approach to performance management may be necessary.

First, ensure internal communications emphasize inclusivity. If you’re concerned that your existing culture might hinder the onboarding process for older workers, begin addressing the potential obstacles before hiring anyone. Emphasize your company’s commitment to an equitable approach to hiring and professional development under which everyone’s contributions are valued and career path is empowered.

Second, consider involving other staff members in the hiring process. For example, you could ask those who will work directly with a new hire to sit in on the initial job interviews. You’ll likely experience less resistance if an older employee’s co-workers are involved from the beginning. Just be sure that every participant understands proper interviewing techniques to avoid legal problems.

Third, as appropriate and feasible, offer training to managers who might suddenly find themselves supervising employees with many more years of work experience. Learning to listen to an older worker’s suggestions while sticking to the company’s strategic objectives and operational procedures isn’t always easy.

Finally, consider a mentorship program. Bringing in new employees of a different age group is an opportune time to investigate the potential benefits of mentoring. By pairing newly hired older workers with younger staff members, you could see both groups learn from each other — and the business benefit as a result.

A deep pool

On a more positive note, the Generation/OECD report found that about 89% of responding employers indicated that their mid-career and older workers performed just as well, if not better than, younger hires. The message is clear: If your business is hiring, don’t overlook the depths of this particular hiring pool. For help identifying and analyzing your company’s employment costs, contact us.

© 2023

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