by Wayne John
Last month, we discussed the younger workers and how we can entice them into our industry. There was a lot of feedback to the story. Most of the responses were alike in that there was a consensus that hiring managers needed to simply create opportunities with the following: 1) a good salary, 2) quick advancement within the organization, and 3) challenging roles with minimal boredom.
While we may feel the need to ‘cater’ to the 25-35 year-old crowd, there is a segment of the workforce that isn’t that high maintenance. While there are few descriptions for ‘older’ workers (tenured, seasoned, experienced, senior, etc.), we will be as respectful as possible.
Why is there so much pushback regarding hiring those over 40? Over 50? Over 60? The perceptions range the gamut from medical issues to overqualification to being too hard to train (or retrain). Sure, there are those realities of impending retirement at some point. We are in an age of technology right now that has mandated computer usage. There are probably a few holdouts under 60 that aren’t tech-savvy and don’t have a smartphone, a (current) computer, iPad, or eReader, etc. But there are probably a surprising amount of workers that have these tools and utilize them in their daily lives. Why? They saw the need to adapt early on and determined that if they didn’t get on board, they would be left behind.
Older workers probably made the decision to join their younger counterparts in technology as they (wisely) knew that without that knowledge, they would be replaced by those who could do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. Plus there’s that other part in which managers identify ‘drive’ in someone’s personality. Without the desire to learn new things and new processes, a company just can’t afford to have anyone on their team fall behind.
There is officially (and legally) no age discrimination anymore. But is that reality? It’s just good business sense to hire people that are going to stay for decades, right? And 50 year-olds and 60 year-olds typically can’t do that, agreed? Well, companies still seem to be under the fantasy that new hires will stay for 10 years, 20 years, or longer. If they do some research into other companies; both inside and outside of the industry, and even look into their own employees’ retention, they will be shocked to learn that the average tenure is close to 3-5 years. Anything over that really is a bonus. Therefore, it is absolutely realistic that anyone; no matter their age, could complete the industry employment average. There will always be the investments in training the new hire, paperwork, etc. but the age won’t matter at all.
Every company is looking for stars that can produce. As long as someone has the qualifications, and can do the job, should it really matter what the age is?
There are added benefits that are underscored with veteran workers. Compared with younger workers, they are typically more honest, more reliable, more grateful to have their jobs, and understand the need to actually show up for work. It is called loyalty; a concept that younger workers seem to have a hard time trying to grasp. The frightening statistics that are floating out there now state that 20-25 year-olds will go through upwards of 15+ job movements in their career. Fewer young adults are going to be content with their career paths.
A seasoned worker already knows the industry, is willing to learn what is needed (quickly), and probably is content with less money. We are missing out on the knowledge and wisdom that these folks could bring to our companies (and yes, to our younger employees). We all learned from those older than us; and sometimes much older than we were.
Remember, as we grew up, we were surprised at how much smarter our parents got as the years went by? Now, as we walk in their shoes in our adult lives, we can finally appreciate their wisdom. The big question is: At what age will you consider yourself an ‘older’ worker? (The writer, Wayne John, is CEO of Electrical Career Specialists, Inc. ECS is a specialized staffing and recruiting firm exclusive to the electrical wholesale distribution community. www.ecs.jobs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 888-474-4327).