Why Employers Can’t Wait to Hire Older Workers

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Older woman at work
Julia Zavalishina / Shutterstock.com

Here is some startling news for anyone over 50: Many companies will fall all over themselves to hire you.

Dismayed by what they view as a shoddy work ethic among younger folks, companies increasingly view older people as harder-working, more dependable employees, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

As a result, members of the older set are getting a second look during job interviews.

To illustrate the point, the WSJ tells the story of Kip Conforti, the owner of a pair of package-shipping stations in Pennsylvania. After decades of hiring high school and college students, Conforti now says the top candidate for his latest part-time opening is a man in his 70s.

Conforti says he has learned that older employees often are better workers than their younger counterparts, who too often arrive late to work, call in sick, and spend too much time scrolling through their social media feeds while at work.

In describing older workers, Conforti told the WSJ:

“The learning curve is a bit longer, but once they get it, God, it’s refreshing. I say, ‘This is what we’re doing today,’ and it gets done. Their shift starts at 9, and they’re here at 8:50. It’s their work ethic.”

Other companies hire older workers for the experience they bring to the job. In 2022, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that at BH Management Services — a national apartment management, development and design firm — about 25% of the workforce was at least 50 years old.

Charlotte Flores, vice president of HR at the company, told SHRM at the time that older workers “are valuable because they are seasoned, and that’s not always easy to find today.”

In 2021, Time reported that 40% of the 750 workers at AIS Inc. — an office pod manufacturing company based in Leominster, Massachusetts — were older than 50.

Other companies also are making determined efforts to hire older workers. For example, the Goldman Sachs Returnship program encourages older people who have been out of the workforce for at least two years to come back to work.

It has been well-documented that older people left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that many planned to retire for good. But for those who are now having second thoughts, the job market might be more welcoming to their return than they previously would have imagined.

The WSJ notes that people ages 55 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. The paper also reports that age-discrimination complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tumbled 45% in the decade ending in 2021.

As Johnny C. Taylor Jr., chief executive of the Society for Human Resource Management, tells the WSJ:

“With the economy slowing down, companies need fewer people and need the people who are there to be OK with working hard. Instead of trying to convince younger generations to be something different, some companies are saying, ‘Why don’t we just go hire people who are naturally predisposed to work harder?'”

If you are older and ready to head back to work, check out “20 of the Best Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”

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