Why Are You Scared of Hiring Older Employees?

July 29, 2015

reasons to consider hiring older employ

A lot of employers are scared of hiring older employees:

“Older employees will retire soon – what’s the point?”

“Older employees know very little about technology – you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!”

-“Older employees are stubborn and difficult to manage”

These thoughts and feelings are surprisingly common in the world of recruitment – you might have even caught yourself thinking some of them yourself. But if you’ve ever found yourself trying to hire from an exclusively younger talent pool, then it might be time to think again – it doesn’t always have to be ‘older employees vs younger employees’, and the above statements are nothing more than stereotypes that are, in most cases, completely untrue.

Let me tell you three things about older employees that you might not have thought of yourself:

1. Plenty of People Continue Working Past Retirement Age

Just because somebody is eligible to retire in a couple of years doesn’t mean they will – in fact, this article highlights the fact that many Americans continue working well into their 70s and 80s.

Imagine finding the perfect candidate for a job, but denying them the position because you thought they’d probably want to retire the moment they turned 65 – only to find, 15 years down the line, that they were churning out huge results for one of your direct competitors.

Sure, some people retire at the age of 65. But a lot of people don’t.

2. You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks (plus, they have plenty of tricks already)

Several years ago I was working in a call centre where the workforce was mostly made up of people aged between 18 and 30.

I will always remember the day when they hired Peter – an ex-painter/decorator who was fast-approaching his 60th birthday. Everybody in the building was surprised to see somebody beyond their 40s getting a job in a call centre – and to begin with, it seemed as if hiring Peter was a bad decision. Why? Well for a start, he had never used a computer in his life. In fact, when the training manager was showing everybody else how to navigate the customer database, poor old Peter was stuck trying to find the Start button on his Windows desktop. And to top that off, he’d only just bought his first mobile phone, and had barely figured out how to make a call with it – so how was he going to get along in a call centre, where the entire job revolved around making phone calls and using computers?

His progress surprised everybody, though – within just a few days, he knew enough about computers and telephones to do most of the basics; within weeks, he knew more about the work systems than most other people in the room; and after around two years, he’d become so excited about technology that he’d learned enough to open up his own computer diagnosis and repair business.

Of course, there was more to his story than just the speed at which he learned to use computers – his background as a self-employed professional gave him plenty of experience in selling services to customers, so much so that his results eventually far surpassed those of his younger colleagues who, on paper, looked far more suited to the role.

3. Older Employees are Not Necessarily Difficult to Manage

If you think that managing older employees is any more difficult than managing younger employees, then you’re probably not doing it right.

Just because a person is old, does not make them automatically stubborn and ‘entitled’, as many stereotypes would have you believe. In fact, I have met far more young stubborn and ‘entitled’ people than I have old – and I’ve met a lot of old people!

As long as you treat all of your people like people, and not just numbers that you can squeeze results out of, then there’s no reason why you should have difficulty managing any of them – young or old.

Do You Hire Older Employees?

Do you avoid hiring older employees, or do you embrace the knowledge and experience they can bring to the table?

Share your own stories, thoughts and opinions using the comments box below.

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