Benefits of hiring older workers

Whether it's from devastated 401(k) accounts, the rising cost of living or uncertainty about the future, more older workers are delaying retirement and some are even leaving retirement for a spot back in the workforce.

More than one-quarter (27 percent) of workers 45 and older were postponing retirement and two-thirds reported having more difficulty paying for essentials such as food, gas and medicine, according to a recent AARP survey.

Additionally, the number of older workers on full-time schedules nearly doubled from 1995 to 2007 and those working part-time increased 19 percent.

Human resources faces unique challenges as more older workers reenter the workplace -- communication across generations, teamwork between coworkers with different work styles, training managers how to work with employees who are much older or younger than they may be.

Still yet, the benefits of hiring older workers greatly outweigh the challenges. Older workers posses the workplace skills businesses need to succeed in today's economy, including:

  • Experience. This group of workers understands how business works and what needs to be done in order to succeed, because they've lived it. Depending on the nature of the job, companies will save time and money on less training.
  • Work ethic. Older workers in the workplace are more dependable and stay more task-focused than their younger counterparts. They are less distracted by cell phones, mp3 players and social networks, and concerned more with completing the task at hand. Older employees have also proven to be the most self-motivated in the workplace.
  • Loyalty. These days, a young worker may have gone through three jobs by the time they turn 25, but that's not the case with senior employees. Older workers grew up during a time where people worked for only one or two companies during their lifetime, building a strong sense of loyalty.
  • Pride. Senior employees take personal pride in a job well done. While younger workers may be more concerned with making it out of the office in time to meet friends, older workers are more likely to stick around past closing time to make sure the job is finished and the final product reflects quality work.
  • Confidence. With all of their experience and training, older workers have a sense of confidence that younger workers still have yet to develop. Their confidence allows them to make decisions and share ideas that can help companies find ways to save money and run more efficiently.

Hiring older workers, with their unique skills and work styles, has the potential to improve productivity and save companies money during a time when it is needed the most. Tapping into the benefits of a mature workforce can help many businesses through these tough times and into a brighter future.

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