Have you heard? The Great Resignation is now the Great Reshuffle, and it makes sense. Tens of millions of people aren’t simply choosing not to work—they’re taking roles somewhere else that either pays them more or offers better opportunity, work/life balance, job satisfaction, etc.
Whatever you call this shift, it’s tough to attract and retain great people. But are you overlooking a valuable source of talent? Older workers just might be your solution.
Advantages of hiring older workers
Older workers bring a level of experience and deep knowledge that simply cannot be taught. It often takes people decades to acquire a combination of technical and core success skills to do their job well and develop relationships with coworkers and clients.
While there are plenty of opportunities to speed up this learning curve with less experienced hires, senior workers already have it. There’s just no replacement for the knowledge and professional networks they’ve built up over decades.
Older workers are also more likely to stick with you. According to data from the Bureau of Statistics, in 2020, the median years of tenure for workers aged 25 to 34 was just 2.8 years. For employees aged 35 to 44 years, it was 4.9 years. But older workers blow those statistics out of the water. For people aged 55 to 64, the median tenure is 9.9 years, and it’s 10.3 years for those aged 65 and older.
Who wouldn’t want to hire an employee with a good chance of holding on to them for the next decade?
How to tap into the older demographic
Of course, many older workers aren’t interested in working full time. According to Pew Research, as of the third quarter of 2021, 50.3% of U.S. adults 55 and older said they’re out of the workforce due to retirement.
But these days, retirement doesn’t always mean the end of work. It’s not uncommon for people to work well into their 60s, 70s and 80s. Sometimes they need the money, but more often, they just love what they do and want to stay busy. The key is that they’re not always interested in doing the same work, for the same company, on a full-time basis. That’s why people age 55+ make up 21% of the population but own 50.9% of U.S. small businesses.
Consider these tactics for tapping into the talent of senior workers:
Look for project-based or gig workers. Do you have a specific project you need help with or a particular timeframe in which you need extra hands? Hiring an older worker on a freelance or temporary basis might be just what you need. One firm we work with hired someone just to handle firm events, such as golf tournaments and client appreciation events. They plan the event, hire catering and other resources and coordinate it on the day of to ensure it’s a great experience for the firm’s employees and clients. Consider different roles in your firm that could benefit from temporary or project-based workers and consider whether an older worker could be the perfect fit.
Tap retired or transitioning shareholders. Recently retired partners and those getting ready to retire soon know your firm and your people. They may not be interested in going through another busy season or handling the responsibilities of client service, business development, and firm leadership. But they probably have other talents that can be put to good use in your firm. Consider asking them to take part in mentoring, coaching or training less experienced staff members.
Work with your area aging program. Many states have senior employment programs that help pair businesses with workers age 55 or older. There you can find older workers who’ve gone through work-based training programs.
Avoid discouraging older applicants. Don’t use terms like “digital native,” “recent grads” or “college student” in your job advertisements or job descriptions. These terms are likely to dissuade older workers from applying. Ultimately, your goal is to find the best individual for the position you’re trying to fill—age shouldn’t factor into it.
Offer flexibility. Flexible hours, remote work, and job-sharing appeal to workers of all ages. These options may be attractive to older workers who spend winters in warmer climates, care for their grandchildren during school breaks, or want time to pursue other hobbies and personal obligations.
More experienced workers have a lot to offer. Instead of dismissing someone simply because of their age, take time to discover the skills and knowledge this person can offer. You’ll make your team more diverse, stronger and successful.
Do you need help with your firm's hiring and talent strategy?
Boomer Talent Consulting can help you get clarity on your firm's most critical talent objectives and create a go-forward strategy suited to your firm's unique needs. Schedule a discovery call today to begin implementing an organizational structure that is positioned and accelerating into the future.
Sandra Wiley, Shareholder, President of Boomer Consulting, Inc., is a leader in the accounting profession with a passion for helping firms grow, adapt and thrive. She is regularly recognized by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her expertise in leadership, management, collaboration, culture building, talent and training.
Sandra’s role at Boomer Consulting, Inc. includes serving as co-director of the Boomer Leadership Academy as well as the Boomer Managing Partner Circle, the Boomer Talent Circle and the Boomer Learning & Development Circle. Her years of experience and influence as a management and strategic planning consultant make her a sought-after resource among the best and brightest firms in the country.