Older Workers bring Value to the Workplace

Are Older Workers More Productive than Younger?

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Dispelling myths in the workplace that have been around many years, older workers over the age of 45 are NOT slower, less productive, sicker, less competent or likely to quit more than younger employees.  In fact according to a survey by theSociety for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it was reported by employers that older workers ARE:

  • 72% more valuable
  • 68% more reliable
  • 69% better with work ethics
  • 77% more committed to the job.

They reported 88% less turnover rates for the 45 and older employees over the 17 to 44 age group.  They say the older employees stay twice as long as those who are 25 to 34 years old.

Age discrimination still exists

Why, then, do 67% of all workers say they have seen age discrimination in the work place, especially around age 50?  They say it is more common than either gender or race discrimination.  Perhaps the trouble lies not with the heads of corporations and higher management, but in the fact that supervisors today are often younger than many of the committed, experienced and skilled older workers.

Some younger supervisors are actually intimidated with the job of being “boss” over their elders; they also worry about conflicts between the different age groups.  This is an unfortunate situation for some companies who may be losing out on a very valuable and essential age group of employees.

The tide is turning

With 10,000 baby boomers (those born in the post WWII baby boom, 1946 to 1964) reaching the age of 65 every day for the next 20 years, a great labor pool of educated, experienced employees will be available.  The three reasons there are older people in the workforce today are:

  • Living longer lives.
  • The Baby Boom explosion coming of age.
  • The need to work longer and lead more productive useful lives.

Basically, the older employee (over 40) wants a friendly work environment where he can use his past experience and skills learned to be a worthwhile, respected member of the organization.  He enjoys tutoring and helping others at the same time learning new skills.  He enjoys flexible schedules, health care insurance benefits and achieving long term goals.  What is there not to like?  Possibly the only drawbacks in this older group is some are not equipped to handle extremely physical jobs and are not as technical savvy as their younger peers.  It is true that some Information Technology companies do not hire anyone older than 40.

Boomers are productive, well educated and well remunerated

A NEW study this year by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College entitled “The Impact of Population Aging and Delayed Retirement on Workforce Productivity,” was quite revealing.  The baby boomers are accelerating the trend for older employees to not only be the most productive for a company, but are starting to receive the most money and are more educated than the younger employees.  Years past, the young people coming out of college could take jobs away from older employees on education alone, but not anymore.  Baby boomers are among the most educated of any age group; almost 30% have college degrees and less than 13% never completed high school which is lowest of any generation before them.

Smart employers will take advantage of this reliable, cost effective workforce.  Yes, it may cost the companies more in the health field, but much less money put out on training programs, excessive absences, and leave of absences such as for maternity.  Another study proved that doubling the work force of over age 55 employees only raised compensation costs a mere 1%.  It bodes well for an employer to know that his competent, reliable employees are happy, and there will be less turnovers and better production.

Therefore, the question is put forth:

Are older workers more productive than younger?

The overwhelming answer from employers is: yes.  Since salary increases are based on experience, not age, they do well in that department as well.  In the age group of 65 to 74, men are now receiving 22% more money than younger peers. And women are receiving 10% more.  Older, more experienced employees understand the business culture better, have fewer dependents to worry about, are better focused and produce better results.

If there will be fewer prized openings for the younger generation in the years to come, they will do better in technology fields that are geared to the younger minds, or to furthering their education and skills for when it is “their turn.”


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