by Teresa Fausey
When it comes to recruiting and hiring, age—perhaps more than most other traits—tends to bring our unconscious biases and unwarranted assumptions to the fore. Here’s a list of traits older workers bring that you might not have considered—or that you might not have believed:
1. Loyalty: According to a recent study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers between 55 and 64 years of age have been with their current employers a median of 9.3 years, while longevity for workers between 25 and 34 years of age is only 2.9 years. Less turnover means lower costs related to lost productivity, workflow disruption, recruiting and hiring, onboarding, and training.
2. Organizational wisdom: Long-time employees not only gain considerable knowledge and expertise, they also have a ton of “organizational wisdom.” They understand workplace idiosyncrasies, individual personality quirks, and informal communication channels. They know how things at your company really work and how to get things done.
3. People skills: Studies show that older workers tend to have better interpersonal skills than younger workers. A lifetime of building relationships and dealing with life’s challenges equips older workers to handle personal interactions and difficult situations skillfully.
4. Tech savvy: It’s true. Older workers are often very technically proficient. Twenty-eight million people over the age of 45 are on Facebook, nearly half of people over age 55 have a smartphone, and almost everyone who’s had a job in the past 20 years is pretty computer literate.
5. Ready to learn: Studies also indicate that most older workers are not only willing, but eager, to learn new skills. People who choose to stay active are eager to keep learning. They understand the benefits—both economic and personal.
6. Mentoring: Older workers make great mentors and advisors, and many are interested in filling those roles. In fact, many companies are already recruiting older—even retired—workers as consultants and mentors.
7. Self-knowledge: Older workers know what they want—personally and professionally—and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They understand that you can’t always get everything you want. They’re more patient with people and with circumstances beyond their control. And they’re more stable and dependable. As it turns out, older workers are more mature. Hmmmm.
Of course, younger workers bring energy, excitement, fresh ideas, and an eagerness to try new things. That’s how innovation and change happen. But for most organizations, a balance of the exuberance of youth and the experience of age is a good combination to shoot for.