Employing Seniors brings Good Value to your business
Over 40% of the population in Northern NSW is over 50 years of age and growing (Source: ABS Population Data). It is one of the nation’s most popular areas for city people seeking lifestyle change.
This means our region is rich in latent talent that can be readily harnessed to the benefit of the local business community but how do we access this valuable resource and are the numbers of seniors significant enough to make a viable contribution ?
…so we decided to find out!
Local research in November 2009 started with a letterbox appeal to the seniors population in the Northern Rivers towns of Ballina, Lismore, Lennox Head, Alstonville and Wollongbar. The message was simple; If you’re retired, semi-retired, retrenched or just interested in doing some part-time work then contact us to register your interest.
The results were astounding. Within 10 days we had over 60 enquiries from both men and women over 50 years of age from all corners of the region and the enquiries continued to flow over the next 12 months.
What did we learn?
Firstly, all these mature age people are serious about finding employment… but not full time employment. All of them would like to work part-time, a few days each week or even full time for short periods such as filling in when someone goes on vacation. They have worked full time all their life and now wish to wind back but not grind to a full stop.
Secondly, they are flexible in the kind of work they will do and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in their previous line of work. All have expressed a desire to get back into the workforce, not only for the earning power, but for the mental stimulation that work provides and the social interaction with others in the business world.
Thirdly, it is very difficult for seniors to access job opportunities. Canvassing potential employers offering their skills is a frustrating, less than fruitful exercise and nearly all the employment agencies are geared to placing younger people into available positions…a mature age person’s resume gets buried in the pile of “I’ll deal with that one later”.
Our research also highlighted the wide range of experience and special skills these seniors have to offer. By the time one reaches 50 they have probably had several career changes, learned a variety of different skills and become very proficient at some. All this is going to waste because local business doesn’t know they are available to make a contribution.
Some of the things that differentiate mature age staff from the younger employees of today are social environment changes and education that has altered the work ethic in the workforce. There is a different attitude toward the job in this younger generation.
Discussions with business owners and managers who employ seniors provided unsolicited comments that led us to identify the
10 Good Reasons To Employ a Senior
“Seniors have a strong work ethic”. Back a few decades ago one’s job was important, a process of learning, advancement through promotion and loyalty to one’s employer was valued… and the employer reciprocated with loyalty to his staff when their personal circumstances warranted special consideration. It was called “going the extra mile” and everyone who wanted to succeed did it and it paid off. Conversely, in this era we often hear management consultants postulating that “the average employee will change jobs every 3-5 years”. Little wonder the work ethic has been lost and employer attitudes to their staff have changed. “What’s the point of training them up, they’ll probably leave soon and the time and money will be wasted”.
“Seniors are reliable. They turn up on time and they show up every day”. Time is money in any business and downtime caused by absence of key staff is critical to the chain of events that make for a smooth running operation. Getting to work tomorrow should be more important that the late night party tonight. Besides, when one is over 50 late nights and partying are now only distant memories.
“Experience is the best part of employing seniors. They don’t need to be taught, they already know what to do and how to do it”. Having an experienced person on the job means less things to worry about because the manager can deal with other priorities knowing that task will be handled correctly and on time. Delegation also comes easy when the manager can call on an experienced person to take charge.
“Seniors often show initiative that we didn’t ask for. They’re not afraid to try a better way if they think it’ll save time”. Confidence in what one does comes through practice over time (and from making mistakes that taught a lesson) so it’s not surprising the combination of experience and knowledge through practice will result in taking initiative without having to ask permission. It all contributes to making the manager’s day a little easier.
“Flexibility with seniors is really helpful for me. Whenever I need to change a roster or a project deadline I know my senior staff will come to the party”. The number of times a manager has commented on flexibility is too frequent to count. It comes back to a willingness to help out, part of that work ethic that seniors have instilled in them. Besides, their private life has been filled with compromise over the years and there are times they can remember someone being flexible to accommodate them so it logically carries over to their workplace…quid pro quo…as the saying goes.
“Seniors really want to work. They’re not just here for the pay cheque at the end of the week”. Sure, the money is nice and they don’t want to work for nothing but they value the opportunity to be employed, to be able to make a contribution to the success of a business and to enjoy the social attributes of a workplace environment. Many people who retire early haven’t properly planned what they’ll do with the extra 5 days they don’t have to go to work. They find themselves with too much time on their hands and they feel “out of circulation”.
“I find I get much better effort per hour from my senior staff. They get more done in less time and that means they’re better value for the money I pay them”.In an age of SMS texting, internet access, mobile phones and advanced technology a lot of offices have a real problem with staff sending personal emails, phoning friends and surfing the internet on company time so it is no wonder they appreciate the mature staff member who gets on with the job and leaves all that personal stuff at home. No wonder the boss feels he’s “getting more bang for his buck”.
“The best part about employing senior people is they take a real interest in my business. They even come up with suggestions how to improve things or do the job faster. That’s important to me and I appreciate it”. It comes back to a confidence in their ability, a willingness to share their positive experience and make a contribution to the success of the business even if it isn’t theirs…that’s what seniors can bring to the table and it often translates to a better bottom line without any extra cost to the employer.
“I find most seniors quite adaptable in workplace situations. They seem to be able and willing to turn their hand to something else even though that’s not what I employed them to do”. Back at the beginning, we commented on the fact that most seniors have done many things in their past careers. Maybe this is why they can demonstrate this adaptability in a situation for which they were not engaged…but it also reflects a willingness to help out rather than adopt an “it’s not my job” attitude.
“ I learned more from my old boss in 1 year than I could have picked up on my own in 5. He was my mentor when I took over the business on his retirement so I know that value of experienced seniors”. Mentoring young employees is a vital role that seniors can play in growing a business and because they are no longer ambitious to “climb the ladder” they don’t pose a threat to the aspirations of the younger staff. It’s a win/win situation all round.