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Seniors – The Unexpected Value of an Emerging Workforce

One of the challenges facing employers today is their ability to recruit and retain employees. One of the issues related to younger employees is that they are more willing to switch jobs, even if it requires moving to a new city. As they continue to explore find themselves, millennials do not have the type of company loyalty that was common in previous generations. This can have a profound impact on an employer, who makes a significant investment in training and developing an employee. A high turnover rate is expensive and can impact continuity with customers, suppliers and other employees. 


An unexpected solution may exist in the reemergence of Seniors (age 50+) into the workplace. Many older Americans have taken early retirement packages or been laid off as a result of the economic downturn. For a number of reasons, they do not want to sit at home and “enjoy their golden years”. Rather, they are choosing to reenter the job market – even though it is highly competitive and the national unemployment rate is still too high. So why do they want to work?


The first reason is economic uncertainty. Their two primary sources of retirement income are Social Security and retirement plans (typically a 401k). There have been numerous articles about Social Security, including proposals that would negatively impact future payments. These have included changing eligibility requirements, requiring means testing and limiting annual increases. Given the partisanship and inherent dysfunction of Congress, Seniors have little confidence in their ability to address this issue in a way that won’t hurt them. 


In addition, the significant economic downturn that began in 2008 has had a severe impact on most 401k plans. Seniors have seen a precipitous decline in the value of their accounts. This translates into less money available for the retirement years. The net result is that Seniors are choosing to continue working in order to improve their financial outlook. They also value the medical benefits that are offered through work. They are wary of the constant changes to Medicare and strong-arm tactics of health insurance companies that result in unexpected medical bills. Put simply, they do not want to rely on Congress or Wall Street for their future. 


The second reason is work ethic. Seniors typical enjoy work. They like being busy, being with people and exercising their bodies and minds. They do not want to stay at home. They have a wealth of knowledge, experience and talent that can be highly valuable to employers. In fact, studies have shown that people who work longer also have a longer life expectancy. In our company, we had many senior employees who were an important and integral part of our team. They were not looking to jump at the next best opportunity. Rather, they were committed to both the company and the area – and were always willing to go the extra mile to do the right thing.


So if you are an employer looking for talented, loyal, experienced and stable employees, it makes sense to look at Seniors. They are an unexpected resource that may surprise you.


Posted June 27, 2012

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