Why should employers think about hiring or keeping older employees?

Well, first of all, as already mentioned in one of my earlier posts, demographic change forces them to. It is omnipresent in Germany as well as other industrialized countries and will create a lack of young qualified employees soon.
But employers should also consider older employees because they have their advantages.

“Experience is one of the most valuable assets an older employee brings to a job”

says Shaheen Darr, author of the article Benefits of hiring older workers in your business. She explains that older people bring a wealth of experience, because they usually ran a home, looked after a family and had several jobs. They have valuable experience in life as well as job that the company can profit from. Or as Horst W. Opaschowski, leader of the Foundation for Future Studies, puts it:

“The economic world can benefit from the senior’s double experience – of life and work”.

By sharing their knowledge and experience, older employees can train younger ones, according to this article on MysticMadness. Shareen Darr points out that this kind of training cannot only save the company money but can also be more interactive and productive for the new employees.

Another advantage shows when looking at the sales /distribution and customer service area: customers get older, too. According to this article by Helmut Sessler, customers older than 50 years have the biggest purchasing power in Germany  and are a growing group, that wants to talk to people their own age, because then it is easier for them to build trustful relationships and respect.

Other advantages, according to Sandra Altmeyer, include accuracy, reliability, stability, routine and the ability to set priorities. She states that because of these advantages older employees need less control and the company can save time and money.

I think, all these advantages show that it pays off to consider older employees and that they are not only a necessary evil that companies have to adopt to because of demographic change but  mainly a very valuable resource that needs to be appreciated .

7 Responses to “Why should employers think about hiring or keeping older employees?”
  1. thob84 says:

    You picked up a crucial topic which we all need to face. You also used a clear structure and a argumentive way to illsutrate the adavantages of hiring or keeping elderly employees. Thereby, you kept it short and precise. I would also emphasize the lack of young professionals in the near future in Germany. I might write my next post about it.

    Thank you!

  2. martinjaja says:

    I have to agree with Thomas, you have highlighted a crucial point in relation to the upcoming lack of qualified academic. Knowledge and experience are a crucial factor for the success of a company!

    I want to quickly pick up both terms and put them into a broader perspective regarding the internationalization of firms. There are generally two major approaches to mention: The phenomen of born globals or new ventures by Knight & Cavusgil and the Uppsala Model by Johansen & Valhne.

    During my assignment studies about the internationalization of firms one of the most crucial parts in the Uppsala Model is knowledge and experience! According to them, you can only acquire them through learning (by doing) or when you externally buy such knowledge.

    Thus, you have a strong necessity for older employees because they are have had plenty of time to learn and built up crucial knowledge and experience! Or what do you think?

  3. Izzy says:

    Yesterday, there was this great post from Dan Pallotta in the Harvard Business Review Blog bringing to life most of the reasons you mention for why older employees are invaluable sources for success. I especially like Pallottas ending:
    So, if you want a company full of people whose contacts are mostly embryos, have little ability to detect bullshit, will open you up to sexual harassment suits, give away your IP, fall for ridiculous business pitches, and trust people after the first tweet, then fill your organization up with youth. But if you want a company that functions with minimal drama and wasted effort, and that can actually nurture the youth inside it, then respect the value of wisdom, and of people who have collected wisdom years.
    Does anyone of you actually have a good example from relatives or acquaintances?

  4. Mary says:

    Thanks for that Post, Katrin. Explosive topic and nice writing style!
    As in one of my previous comments, I’d like to refer to a very nice study from the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung about how innovative a company can be while hiring older employees and how to integrate them best. The study also provides different solutions, from mixed-aged working groups to self-employment among older people. Take a look, it is very interesting!
    So how is Innovation Management compatible with Age? @Izzy: There are loads of good examples! Take the company I work in – you’ll find very experienced and ‘wise’ people who are perfectly up to date – one of the oldest employees in my office is counting 2,043 followers on Twitter at this moment! (I would like to desist from linking to his account as he might be offended by me calling him ‘old’) 😀 Paradoxically, we are talking about a very new and high technology sector here – so I can definitely tell you that it is working!

  5. diiasg says:

    Great Post Katrin. It really is a topic we shall face in the near future. I also want to give a thumbs up to Thomas for his anaylis of the lack of young professionals in Germany.

    I live with an engineer and he proudly annouces every morning how wanted he will be after he is done with his studies, and this speaks to the lack of engineers for example.

    also this just brought me onto another topic: whether or not germany is doing a good enough job of keeping their most critical and priceless innovations and ideas in house. Namely Trans-rapid Train and China. Google that when your bored. Great topic.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] picked up the topic of demographic change. In her article she argues that older employees can be of high value for companies. She also highlights the issue […]

  2. […] It turned out that due to demographic change, Germany needs more old people. (See Katrins post Why should employers think about hiring or keeping older employees?) But obviously, Germany also needs more young people – due to the shortage of skilled labour, […]

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