Perceptions Don’t Match The Reality

Good Morning Boomers!Some recent data shows that over 61% of hiring managers are reluctant to hire older workers.  It is no wonder that older workers are finding themselves on the unemployment line longer than younger workers.  There are deep stereotypes in place that keep companies from hiring people who match their needs in both experience and knowledge.  But workers who can “hit the ground running” are workers who can make money for their new employers almost immediately.  So why the hesitancy to hire experience?

There are still many false generalizations being applied to older workers.  One is that older workers can’t keep up with technology.  In reality, over half of workers aged 51 to 59 use computers ever day at work or at home.  The older group is online too.  Some 57% of those aged 65 to 69 regularly surf the net.  The percentage of online seniors increased 47% from 2000 to 2004.  So the training costs for older workers are not as high as some think.  A study by Towers Perrin found that, on average, the cost of hiring an older worker was just 1% higher than for a younger worker.     

Another stereotype harming older workers is that they cause company expenses to rise.  That may be true for some expenses.  Health care comes to mind.  Perhaps some older workers with health issues can cost a company more than younger workers with growing families.  But there are advantages that older workers bring to a company that cause other expenses to fall. 

Consider that the turnover rate for workers who are 60 or older is 1/6th that of workers who are 35 or younger.  Since turnover costs are about 30-32% of an employees annual salary (SHRM study), hiring older workers can substantially lower the costs of annual turnover in companies that have a “revolving door” work force. 

That constant churn is costing big bucks in training, customer satisfaction, and company knowledge.  This past week I spoke to a recruiter who had recommended younger, “less expensive” candidates for the same open position time after time.  Each  younger employee quickly left to pursue  “bigger and better” opportunities.   After this frustrating (and embarrassing) track record, she recruited an older worker who exactly matched the needs of the employer.  No more churn.  Customer happy.  

Studies have also shown that absenteeism rates of older workers are lower than that of younger workers.  No child care or sick child issues to deal with.  No school or summer holidays to worry about.  Older employees rarely need to  “take turns” staying home to  deal with family issues.

So when you consider the advantages that older workers can bring to a company in experience, in knowledge, in attendance, and in company loyalty, it simply doesn’t make sense to let unfounded perceptions or ageism interfere in the hiring process.



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