Eight Reasons That Hiring Older Workers Makes Good Business Sense

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2020, one-fourth of the U.S. workforce will be over the age of 55.

Let that sink in for a minute.

One out of every four individuals working in the U.S. in the year 2020 will be over 55. Think about what that means for your business if you are an owner and employer. Are you prepared to hire older workers and have them become a viable part of your team? With so many 55-and-over individuals available for work, it would be a mistake to overlook them when it comes to hiring. They bring a lot of strong skills and business experience to the table, and they’re not about to retire any time soon. When you’re searching to hire the most qualified individuals for your business, don’t overlook the candidates over age 50 because they may have the skills that you need for your  business.
Still not convinced if older workers fit in with your organization? Consider these advantages:

1. Older workers bring loads of business experience. That means they can usually hit the ground running from Day One and make an immediate impact. They’re not shy about asking questions or get clarification about a project, and they’re eager and willing to learn.

According to a 2014 survey of the Society of Human Resource Management, 77 percent of HR managers surveyed cited work experience as the top advantage of hiring older workers, followed closely by maturity and professionalism (71 percent) and a strong work ethic (70 percent).

2. Older workers won’t break the bank. Although they bring a lot of work experience, they’re not expensive. In fact, in most situations, they’re not looking for a promotion or an office in the VIP suite. They’re more interested in finding a job with a steady income, one that allows them to contribute their talents. That desire for stability makes them attractive to employers who may tire of younger workers jumping ship after giving them on-the-job training.

3. Older workers are willing to learn new things and develop their skills. If they’ve lost a job or had an extended period of unemployment, some may have gone back to school for additional course work or taken computer classes to update their skills. So they return to the workforce well prepared and better educated to tackle today’s biggest business issues. And don’t worry about a lack of understanding of current technology either. Today’s 50+ workers are more technologically savvy than previous generations. These individuals have grown up with older versions of technology, so learning new technology shouldn’t be a problem.

4. Many older workers have a stronger work ethic than their younger peers. They understand what is expected of them, and you won’t find them standing idly in the break room gossiping with co-workers. They arrive on time, are willing to work overtime if necessary and they treat everyone with respect. In fact, their work ethic makes them excellent candidates for customer service positions, according to Over50JobBoard.com.

5. Older workers are loyal and reliable. They’re not looking to climb the corporate ladder or the next business opportunity for themselves. By age 50, they’ve already reached the pinnacle of success in their careers and are in the twilight of their careers, they simply want to contribute to a cause, be active in the community and stay relevant in the business world. You know you can count on them to arrive on time, be respectful of other workers and with clients, and perform their tasks efficiently and with little fuss or drama.

6. Older workers bring maturity and professionalism to the job.  Because of their experience, they have faced numerous business scenarios requiring good communication, clear thinking, problem-solving ability and an ability to look at a situation from different angles. As a result, there is a maturity in their decision-making that you won’t find in younger workers.

7. Older workers are ideal stress relievers. Because they have faced many high-pressured situations in the past, nothing fazes them. They can remain patient, calm and cool-headed in the most stressful situations.

8. Older workers have a positive attitude. They’re generally cheerful and are grateful to be working at all. Think of Robert DeNiro’s character in “The Intern,” who was always happy to help out his co-workers, do as he was asked without argument, and always had a smile on his face. He was just happy to belong to a group of dynamic professionals and contribute his insights and experience to the job.

The next time you need to hire someone for a job, don’t overlook the over-50 candidates. They have a lot to offer and may have just the skills you need to help your business thrive.

Communication Helps Co-Workers Cope with Sudden Death

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Over the weekend, the baseball world lost a rising star. Jose Fernandez, a young, talented pitcher for the Miami Marlins, died in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

This news story reminds us how important it is to communicate the sudden, unexpected loss of a colleague quickly and with sensitivity and tact.

I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing two co-worker losses over my career. In one case, a co-worker died from a bacterial infection after delivering her baby two months prematurely. In the second scenario, a co-worker had committed suicide in his apartment. I had to convince my manager to share the news of this worker’s death personally in a staff meeting rather than by email, which she wanted me to send out. Email might seem easier and more convenient, but it can come across as cold and impersonal when a more delicate touch is needed.

It helped that both of these co-workers worked in small offices of less than 50 people so it was easier to communicate their deaths than it would have been if they worked in larger companies.

Delivering news of a co-worker’s death is one of the most difficult communications issues a manager will ever face. Emotions are raw. The news may still be fresh and you haven’t had time yet to absorb it.  There is a need to remain calm so you can help employees deal with their grief even as you struggle with your own.

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American Psychological Association offers suggestions for communicating the news to employees and helping them cope with their loss.

1. Deliver the news quickly and personally. A group meeting is best for small offices or departments, while a conference call will be better for remote workers. In larger companies, news may best be shared in department meetings. Avoid using email as it can be cold and impersonal. If the deceased employee was well-known or worked in a small work environment, their co-workers will likely want to hear the news firsthand.

2. Set up a telephone tree to share the news with managers. Begin with the HR manager, who may be responsible for contacting a handful of other managers, who will be responsible for calling people in their department. The news will filter down through layers of management that way.

3. Allow staff members to grieve and share their feelings with one another. This could be in a separate meeting among staff, or with a crisis counselor. If an employee is having an especially hard time with grief, allow them time off to attend the funeral or to cope with their loss.

4. Take advantage of employee assistance programs if your company offers it. Experienced counselors can offer support and advice and help make plans for memorials and other gestures of condolences to family members.

5. Honor the employee’s memory. After sufficient time has passed, perhaps several weeks or months, employees, especially those who were closest to the deceased, may decide to remember their colleague. Planning a fundraiser, creating a memory book of photos and mementos, hosting a community outreach day in their memory, or honoring the employee at a staff luncheon are just some ideas that can help workers put a positive light on a terrible tragedy.

Learning of a co-worker’s sudden death can be an unsettling experience for everyone in the office. Communicating the news with sensitivity and tact is key to helping workers cope with the loss.