Thursday, 28 June 2012

Grey Power?

Lately I've heard a lot, both in the news and from clients, that people just don't want to hire a candidate that is over 50.  This is short sighted and wrong, and here's why:

In our culture no one stays in a job for their entire career.  If you can get an employee to stay for 3 - 5 years, you're laughing!  The Millennial generation is even encouraged to switch jobs every 3 years or so to build up their skill set. Penelope Trunk even said that staying at a job for too long is career suicide!  So why are employers afraid to hire someone who is older when they will get no guarantee that a younger candidate will stay any longer?

Knowing that employee tenure is about 3 years, why wouldn't employers be scrambling to hire older workers?  If you know that you can hire someone who is only looking to work for another 5 - 10 years, shouldn't they be at the top of the candidate pile?

One may argue that a younger employee costs less.  In some cases this can be true.  Health benefits aside, a less skilled employee would definitely be at the lower end of the pay scale than a higher skilled employee.  However, if you've been upfront with what your salary range is, and you're paying market value for the role, and the candidate is interested, then what's the problem?

There are 2 types of older workers:  Those who are working because they enjoy it and those who are working because they have to.  That's not to say that they can't be both.  But there are those who have savings and a retirement plan, and who will work until the age of 65 and that's it.  Then there are those who, for many reasons, have no savings and no retirement plan, and need to keep working in order to survive.  Both types can be great employees.  Both can be loyal employees.
Plus, think of the maturity that an older person can bring into your office.  Oh sure, you have a "young culture" and you worry that they won't "fit in".  But maybe this is exactly what your office needs.  There's nothing wrong with a little variety.  Many Managers are managing with 4 generations in their workplace.

Ideally we all want to retire - at least I know that I want to retire.  Unfortunately I think that there will not be much "Freedom 55" happening anymore.  So toss out your misconceptions about older workers and give one a chance.  Please, I'm going to be one of them one day!

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