By Joanne Byrne
Retired and Rejuvenated
COVID-19 slashed through the American economy, costing millions of people their jobs. But those layoffs didn’t hit every age group equally. A growing body of statistical information shows that older workers lost their employment more often and were not rehired as frequently or quickly as younger workers.
Did employers use the pandemic to get rid of older workers? The evidence so far is mostly based on statistics. But it is persuasive. As the economy begins to recover, older workers will most likely be disproportionately affected, according to Bureau of Labor Statistic figures.
Aside from the legal reasons not to discriminate against hiring (or rehiring) older, more experienced employees, there are sound business reasons to add gray to the workforce, especially now. Boomers represent some of the community’s finest resources. It is a shame that so much local talent is underused.
A worker over 60 has much to offer. Companies seeking to build their businesses and thrive can achieve a win-win by seasoning their payroll with older workers.
Older employees provide more value for their pay. They have better communication skills, both oral and written, and can be excellent as trainers, consultants, mentors and coaches. Open to training, they know how to work with other employees. And they are loyal.
Mature workers bring expertise. Their more extensive work and life experiences give an edge in relationship-driven roles. Experienced employees can provide big cost savings through increased retention. With a great work ethic, older workers are apt to come in early and willing to stay late. Their wisdom enables them to look at the big picture. They are good at sharing information with others. Possessing integrity, they are good with clients and volunteers.
Because they typically have less hectic and demanding lives, they can more easily meet customers’ needs. They may be more flexible in their schedules. They are apt to stay with an employer long-term. They are skilled in problem solving because they have tackled many issues and they are not put off by challenges. They have learned from their mistakes, and their need to “prove something” has been replaced with a high level of self-awareness and confidence.
Older workers are seasoned and experienced in life. This adds depth to a company and is beneficial to problem solving. There are fewer absentee problems with the older generation. Secure in who they are, they have nothing to prove.
They know what to focus on and what to ignore. They work hard and smart. Exerting a cool, calm energy, they have a positive effect on the team. Maturity has a value when making the hard decisions. With less of an entitlement attitude, older workers are less self-centered and display more warmth and sincerity. Older workers also generally have a greater appreciation for the value of money and will be more budget conscious.
Gray is a new gold.
Joanne served as senior services coordinator for the Town of Orange. She is now actively and happily retired. Email her at joannebyrne41 @gmail.com to share your thoughts on retirement.