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  • Writer's pictureNick Andriacchi

Seasoned Employees Can Help Fill Open Job Orders

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

"The seasoned employee will most likely leave a more lasting legacy for their employer as opposed to less experienced one."

Nearly every staffer I speak with says the same thing: “We can’t find enough candidates to fill open orders”. Given the low unemployment and labor participation rate, I believe that statement is 100% true. It is especially true when staffing companies look to hire internal employees. It is very hard to find qualified candidates. The new workforce, the Millennial generation and under, tend to pick-up some experience then leave as soon as they master the job. So, given the state of the job market, do staffers tend to overlook potential employees in their 50’s?

It seems there are 4 common concerns with hiring people over 50. First, I usually hear or read about that group being overqualified for the job. The second concern is their salary requirements are more than an employer is willing to pay. Third, the common belief is they may not stay at the firm long-term as they are approaching retirement age. And forth, they are too rigid to adapt to your company’s culture or they skill set may be “dated”. I think these concerns are overblown.

1. The employee brings lots of experience “Overqualified” for the job? When you read the word it almost seems silly. If the candidate for the position is an expert in the field and is willing to do the job – why wouldn’t you hire that candidate? The ramp-up time would be minimal and most likely, the employee functions in the role much more efficiently. Other intangibles are the employee would bring a higher level of professionalism and invaluable knowledge to not only to specific job, but real world experience to the firm in general.

2. The employee will save money or help grow the business quicker This concern is probably the truest of the 4 concerns. Yes, the salary ask may be higher, but “you get what you pay for”. Besides, the candidate may be willing to accept a little lower salary for a better working environment.

However, in many cases an experienced worker will cost the firm less money in the long-run. Sure, initially the higher salary will cost a little more in the very beginning, but the savings should start hitting relatively quickly as less cost will be required for training etc. Plus, these workers typically come with advanced critical thinking skills that can either save the firm money because they tend to make better decisions or can drive revenue quicker due to an expanded networking base etc.

3. Loyal and Committed The over 50 candidate pool work ethic is closer to “the Greatest Generation” than the current one. They are more likely to want to work for the same employer for 15 to 20 years as opposed to most younger workers that don’t have the same sense of loyalty. These employees have typically had less demands on their time as they are less likely to leave the office early because of young family commitments etc.

As far as retiring, many Americans are working well into their 60’s and 70’s so they may be around for quite some time. What if worst-comes-to-worst and they do retire in 5 to 10 years? The seasoned employee will most likely leave a more lasting legacy for their employer as opposed to less experienced one.

4. Spry and Flexible The last misconception is that the more seasoned employee is too set in their ways and unwilling to learn new techniques or adapt the company culture. Of course, in some cases that could be true, but it is not as common as one would think. Let’s break this misconception up a bit. Seasoned employees should be treated a little differently than ones without experience. Instead of tightly structuring the position, allow the employee some leeway to do the job. With an experienced employee you can learn as much from them as they can from you. By giving the employee some freedom, they will be more willing to adapt to some of your processes.

The labor participation rate for workers 55 – 64 is still down over 1% from pre-pandemic levels. Its down over 2% for those older than 64 years old, so they are out there.

Governments generally have loosened requirements on rehiring retired workers and that same approach can also be helpful to deal with temporary needs. Indiana, for example, recently created a classification for retired employees, allowing agencies to employ them more easily in an intermittent role at the same hourly rate they made upon their retirement.

“They can be mentors. They can help fill potholes. They can help with regular tasks, or they can help with broader principles of organizational leadership,” says Matthew Brown, Indiana’s personnel director. There is a 180-day limit per year to the number of days a retired state employee can work.

Although Indiana only recently rolled out this program, the response from agency leaders has been enthusiastic and several retired state employees have already returned. Brown believes more retired state employees will soon take advantage – particularly because retirees will be hired back for short periods at the rate they made.

“That’s the incentive. They know that we respect their value and we’re valuing them appropriately,” says Brown.

For employers that are looking for professionalism, experience, commitment and “youthful energy”, employees in their fifties are the perfect age! Hiring these workers should be viewed as a strategic plan that’s a win-win for both the employee and employer.

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