The Bottom Line: Older Employees: Liability or Asset?

Standard

th5T1W4ZSKThere is a movie at the theaters right now, titled “The Intern”.

In the movie, 70 year old Robert DeNiro is hired as an Intern at a company, run by Anne Hathaway.

Hijinks ensue.

As the movie progresses, the “old codger” turns out to be of immeasurable worth to both Hathaway and her company.

Is this movie simply a comedy? Or a lesson in Business Management?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the month of August,

…the civilian labor force participation rate was 62.6 percent for the third consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4 percent, was about unchanged in August and has shown little movement thus far this year.

That means that 37.4% of America’s Workforce has either voluntarily walked away from the “Rat Race”, are working “under the radar”, or, have just flat given up seeking gainful employment.

Additionally,

In August, 1.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 329,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 624,000 discouraged workers in August, down by 151,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Being 56 years young, I also noticed, while looking at the BLS’s August Report, that, only 39.8% of Americans, 55 or older, are working.

Why is that?

Are honesty, dependability, punctuality, stability, loyalty, wisdom, and experience, no longer valued by America’s Employers?

According to a Government Accountability Office Report, published in 2012,

The experts and staff GAO interviewed at some one-stop career centers, as well as the unemployed older workers who participated in GAO’s focus groups, identified employer reluctance to hire older workers as a key challenge that older workers face in finding reemployment. They also identified out-of-date skills, discouragement and depression, and inexperience with online applications as reemployment barriers for older workers. Some one-stop staff who serve older workers told GAO that providing the type of assistance some older workers need to address these unique challenges can be very time-consuming.

As often occurs, especially in the case of older potential employees, an employer’s preconceived, and perhaps, stereotypical notions, can blind him or her to the benefits of hiring an experienced professional.

In 2006, entrepreneur.com published the following list of 12 benefits of hiring an Older Employee.

Below are twelve reasons why hiring older workers can help you maintain a reliable, dedicated workforce and provide a significant cost savings for both the short and long term. (The reasons themselves are their original posting. The descriptions are mine.)

1. Dedicated–

Quite honestly, folks my age and older, tend to throw ourselves into our work, given the opportunity. We do not know how many more chances at gainful employment that we will receive.

Additionally, because we are so driven to do our best, we tend to identify costly mistakes, before they can damage our employer.

2. Punctuality–

Older Employees come from a generation that was taught that punctuality was “good manners” and “being respectful”.

Also, when you get older, it becomes harder to sleep in. Trust me.

3. Honesty —

Older Employees come from a generation where honesty and personal integrity were valued above everything else.

4. Detail-oriented, focused and attentive–

Again, this is a part of being older. Older Employees tend to be so self-aware of our need to do a good job, that we go over everything several times, before passing it “down the line” or “upstairs”, or wherever the heck it needs to go.

5. Good listeners–

Older Employees are easy to train, because we pay attention. You only have to tell us how to do something one time.

Of course, when we get home, our wives have to repeat themselves, especially during televised sports.

…But, that’s neither here nor there.

6. Pride in a job well done–

Older Employees tend to stay until we get the job done. We take pride in our work because we are happy to be employed.

7. Organizational skills–

Do you know haw many valuable man hours are lost each year simply due to workplace disorganization?

If I told you over a million, would you be surprised?

Older Employees tend to be meticulous to a fault.

8. Efficiency and the confidence–

Older Employees are not shy about sharing our experiences. And, at times our “war stories” will prove to be just the answer an employer will be looking for, in order to handle a problem efficiently and economically.

9. Maturity–

Older Employees have “seen it all”…twice. Because we’ve “been there, done that”, we tend not to have a screaming hissy fit, when unexpected problems occur on the job.

10. Setting an example–

Older Employees’ work ethics and calm, assured presence on the job can be an encouragement and example to younger employees. Also, because we are good listeners, we usually wind up as mentors and trainers, again, becoming an asset to our employer.

11. Communication skills–

Older Employees know when to speak and when to listen. We know how the game of “Office Politics” is played. And, we know how to get our ideas across, in a respectful way, to the Boss.

“Why, boss, that’s the greatest idea you’ve ever come up with!”

12. Reduced labor costs

A lot of times, Older Employees already have Health Insurance from a previous employer or they have some sort of income from another source, and can represent a savings to the company’s bottom line.

Speaking from personal experience, as an **cough** “experienced professional”, the benefits of hiring an Older Employee greatly outweigh the liabilities.

In today’s atmosphere of rapid employee turnover in the workplace, the hiring of older Americans offers not only a potential savings in HR costs, but also presents an opportunity for a stable workplace environment.

The Bottom Line?

Hiring Older Employees will increase your company’s Bottom Line.

Never Give up. Never Surrender.

Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is an “experienced professional” “seeking new opportunites”. He may be contacted at In-mail at linkedin.com.

Job Search 2014: It’s a Brave New World

Standard

40s businessAs I continue my quest for gainful employment, it has become very evident to me that America’s Job Market has drastically changed.

The impatience of a technology-driven society is very evident…even in a job search.

Employers nowadays want to know what you can do for them today, not a couple of years down the road. And, with the economy headed down the ol’ porcelain receptacle, they want you to be able to do it with a limited or non-existent budget. Additionally , if you are being interviewed by a smaller company, Health Insurance for you and your family may not be included, due to the launch of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

This ain’t our parents (or grandparents for you young whipper-snappers out there) Job Market.

My folks were members of America’s Greatest Generation. I was born when they were 40. That being said, I can remember my Mother and Father, going to work everyday, to their jobs with Sears and Roebuck.

That’s right. They both worked for the same company…for 20 years!

You see, boys and girls, back then, unlike our impatient present society, employers hired you for the long haul. These employers were adept, through face-to-face interviews, at recognizing future employes’ potential, and were willing to invest the time necessary to cultivate that employee in order to realize a Return on that Investment (ROI).

Beginning in the 1980’s, the employer/employee dynamic began to change, as older employees, seemingly overnight,  became viewed as liabilities, not assets.

Take Sears and Roebuck, for example. As I mentioned earlier, both my parents put in 20 years with Sears.  In the early 1980s, after the Corporate Offices moved into the Sears Tower in Chicago, the young, hungry executives up there decided that the old model of employment with Sears was no longer viable.

Sears Employees, at that time, had a very nice Benefit Package, which included profit sharing, paid vacations, health insurance…the whole deal.

In return, at the store level, the employees were very happy, hard-working, and loyal assets to the company.

For example, my Father managed the Suburban Shop in a Sears Store, here in Dixie. His department consisted of a combined Farm Store and the Garden Store. He sold fencing, storage rooms, chain saws, tractors, go-karts, Sakrete (concrete mix), fertilizer, flowers..you get the idea. I still remember him, in his 50s, loading bags of Sakrete onto a dolly.

The employees would also hold monthly management/recognition meetings before the store would open for the day. There would be skits, motivational speeches from management, and awards given. My Father, in fact, was Sales Manager of the Year, at least a couple of times.

The results of the way that Sears treated their employees, back in the day, showed up in their sales…and their reputation. When you walked in the door of a Sears Store, you were immediately greeted by the employees, and made to feel welcome. Their reputation ranked right up there with Macy’s Department Store in the Northern States and Goldsmith’s Department Store down here in the South. In other words, they were considered THE TOP OF THE LINE.

And then, it happened.

The bean counters and the young, hungry executives decided that taking care of their employees was interfering with their Revenue Stream. They began to “tighten the screws”, if you will, and started offering “Early Retirement” to their veteran, knowledgeable employees, so that they could replace them with part-time young employees, with reduced benefits, thereby increasing their corporate Revenue Stream.

So, how did that work out?

Not so well.

Sears had to close a lot of stores, before finally selling out to K-mart, which still finds itself in a precarious position, being trounced in the marketplace on a regular basis by Walmart.

So, you’re asking, what does that have to do with today’s Job market?

I’m glad you asked.

Nowadays, in our impatient society, powered by an universal quest for immediate results and gratification, employers and job-seekers alike have forgotten the old adage,

Good things come to those who wait.

Employers need to realize that there are skills you can teach employees and that the job seeker who is presently interviewing with you, can be cultivated into becoming a worthwhile ROI.

And, on the job seeker’s part, young seekers, just out of college, need to realize that, while universities can teach you knowledge, they can’t teach you experience. You may have to take a lower job than you had set your hopes on, in order to achieve greater success in the future.

To summarize, in today’s “microwave-version” of the job seeking/hiring process, perhaps both employers and potential employees need to slow down, move in a more deliberate fashion, and think a little more about what they want, in both an employer and in a job situation.

Prepare for the long haul.

Be Flexible. Be Adaptable. 

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

 Allen