When the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, you’ll often hear a traditional farewell tune. One year finishes, and it’s time for another. Out with the old, in with the new. But this notion isn’t confined to the passing of time. Some companies manage their human resources this way.
Older employees are phased out or simply not hired in the first place. Recruitment focuses solely on young, up-and-coming trailblazers. However, if you’re fixated on attracting and hiring youthful employees, it might be time to change your perspective.
There’s more than a few disadvantages of dismissing senior workers. There’s also some advantages of having them on staff that you might have overlooked. So, before you count out your over-fifty employees or job candidates, keep reading.
Here’s five things you’re missing out on by not employing and engaging your older workers.
1. Life Experience
Older employees have been around longer. Simple as that. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of life. Older individuals have likely navigated unexpected circumstances, large and small. Perhaps they have a few career changes under their belt. They may have moved across town or the country.
They are familiar with facing challenges, investing time, and staying committed. Longer life experiences mean more experience with relationships like family dynamics, friends, and acquaintances. It’s safe to say they will have learned valuable lessons from their life experience, which will benefit any position they hold in your company.
2. Professional Experience
Just as many senior employees have a more vast life experience, they have more extended work experience. Potentially, more varied as well. They may have held several positions in the same industry or the same position in several industries. No matter the background, you’ll likely find valuable skills and expertise in someone who’s worked for a lengthy amount of time.
A newly qualified employee should be up to date on the latest requirements. But a seasoned employee may be able to handle trickier situations. Also, those who worked before the digital boom in some professions will have a better understanding of basic principles. You may rely on them to provide the reason behind specific decisions or guidelines. Having someone on staff with this knowledge can be significantly helpful to you and your younger workers.
3. Extensive Networks
With life and professional experience comes an extensive network of contacts. Senior employees will have contacts in both the industry and other disciplines. When a challenge arises, they’ll know who to call for advice or help. If your company has a vacancy, they might be able to recommend a qualified candidate. If your company has significant challenges looming, they might know someone who can come aboard as a consultant. Older workers may even be able to call on someone on-the-spot in more urgent situations.
In their day-to-day activities, those with a more extensive network can navigate issues independently. If a small team needs help, they can pick up the phone or send an email. Even working alone, they can seek out the required information before escalating a problem to higher management. This ability increases productivity and benefits the entire team.
4. Soft Skills
Of course, many of the reasons why companies shouldn’t dismiss older workers are based on generalizations. Even so, it’s safe to assume a senior employee will have developed some of the following soft skills:
- Time Management
- Team Collaboration
- Problem Solving
- Decision Making
- Work Ethic
- Conflict Management
Because of the length and breadth of their experience, they’ve had time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. They’ll have made plenty of mistakes, and still will, but they’ll have learned how to handle a mess and keep going. They will probably stand out as the employee with a cool head in a crisis.
Older workers typically work independently and know how to manage time and projects. They’ll have more developed leadership skills, communication skills, and conflict management skills. Not to say that younger workers won’t have these skills, but a senior worker will have had longer to refine their skills.
Perhaps the underlying theme of all the benefits of hiring and keeping older employees is the opportunity for mentorship. Senior employees will help your younger employees grow and develop in their roles. Older people usually enjoy passing on knowledge and skills to their younger coworkers. A newer employee might resent a coworker getting a promotion. A senior worker would celebrate with their coworker and be glad to have helped a young person achieve their potential.
A mature employee can also be a stabilizing influence. Younger team members may have more unbridled emotions. Having an older worker on the team can help level out emotions and keep the collaboration going. For this reason, more senior employees often become unofficial team leaders or consultants.
A company’s success depends heavily on a balanced workforce and even closing generation gap in the workplace. Employees need both experience and energy, maturity and passion. You’ll, of course, want to hire youthful, fresh-faced, zealous workers. You’ll also want older, wiser, sharp-witted workers. Senior staff can help stabilize your business and be the catalyst for creating a cohesive team.
Professional and life experience, extensive networks, and soft skills are all compelling benefits to attracting, hiring, and retaining older employees. Perhaps the most irresistible profit is the opportunity for mentorship. Hiring and keeping mature staff benefits your employees of all ages and has the most remarkable overall results for your entire organization.