4/9/2013 3:45 PM ET|
Why some love hiring older workers
Seniors often struggle to find work, but in many industries, they are considered an asset -- reliable, trainable and great for customer relations.
Workers 55 and older are the fastest-growing part of the workforce, actively pursued and recruited by many companies, especially in customer service positions. But that doesn't mean it's easy for seniors to land jobs.
Talk to job hunters over the tender age of 55 and their stories of endless door-knocking can leave you both enraged and saddened. On average, it takes an older worker twice as long as a younger counterpart to land a job. Last year, the mean time that these baby boomers had to pound the pavement was 47 weeks.
"We have never seen these durations of unemployment in our history," said Andrew Sum, the director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. "These are really huge."
But advocates for older workers like to point out the bright spots . . . and there are bright spots: Companies both big and small are reaching out to the senior set and adapting to their needs. Many companies shy away from publicly discussing even the positive attributes of any given demographic for fear they'll be accused of reverse discrimination.
Those that don't, however, say they'd like to promote some new stereotypes about mature workers. In doing so, they can be heard repeating terms like reliability, work ethic, customer service, emotional intelligence, loyalty and experience.
"We see productivity levels that are no lower for mature workers, and our retention rates are higher," said David Casey, the chief diversity officer for CVS Caremark, the huge pharmacy chain. "Once they get on the job, they tend to stay."
CVS Caremark is acutely aware, too, that many of its customers are aging. Nearly a quarter are older than 65. With older workers, "we see a strong connection to the customer," Casey said.
Keeping both senior workers and customers in mind, CVS has lowered the height of its shelves, increased store lighting, upgraded carpeting, made magnifying glasses available to shoppers and installed color coding to make it easier to find products.
At Home Depot, older workers are encouraged to apply their life experiences to their retail role, whether they have worked in the past as trade professionals or just acquired a lifetime of knowledge in years of homeownership and do-it-yourself projects.
In fact, customers often gravitate to these older, more experienced store associates, said Stephen Holmes, a Home Depot spokesman.
"They're the ones that people come in and ask for by name," he said.
Holmes even said one young store associate -- a qualified plumber flush with licenses – complained recently that customers wouldn't listen to him because he was only 26.
Older workers also are among the most reliable, Holmes said. Associate Ed Abrams has remained on the job at a Connecticut Home Depot for 20 years, ever since he was hired at age 72.
"We begged him to come work for us … because he had an entire career in the lighting industry," Holmes said via email. Holmes said Abrams was recruited by a neighbor who was the store manager.
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I'm 60, I work for a landscaper-lawncare company,
i'm always early, give them a full day
outside everyday, enjoying mother nature
never complain-they treat me with respect,
cause I'm the old guy
the owners are 29 and 30
I help with snow all winter
JUST CAUSE WERE OLDER, DOES NOT MEAN
WERE NOT AN ASSET.
I still work out 7 days a week
I am 74 and all my life I have worked from the time I was 5 years old. I cannot imagine not getting up and going to work, next Monday I am starting a new job with an engineering company in North Texas that were kind enough to give me an opportunity to prove I can still perform. In return I intend to do everything they need for me to do without a lot of flack and be one of their most reliable employees.
I always tell my mom she needs to "sell" the fact she no longer has kids at home and can work any hours and be dedicated to work in her interviews....that is a huge asset that not all Moms/Dads/People going to school can do and is a advantage old folks should exploit...
I have read many of the comments, and most people have it right. I will be 60 this July and have no intention of retiring. I am always 25-40 minutes early to work and start as soon as I get here. I realize that I am here for the employer and not the other way around. I know there is seldom a valid reason for being late. I am not lazy, and the work assigned to me gets done quickly. I don't feel that just because I have an education that the world owes me something. I currently have more than 30 years in with this employer and plan to put at least another 6 years.
Loyalty helps with my goals. I currently get 5 weeks of vacation a year and 13 days of sick leave. Due to my dedication and abilities I was moved to a position in Europe in 2010.
I started this job as a temporary, and worked my way up. You young people need to learn that's the way it's done. Why should you start at the top and have it all now.
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