Contributed Column

An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

by Christopher Loso

Benefits of Hiring Mature Workers

Vermont’s population is aging. In 1990, Vermont’s median age was just under 33 years, in line with the national average. However, according to 2015 Census Bureau statistics, the national median age has increased by almost five years to 37.8, while Vermont’s has increased to 42.8. Vermont’s population aged 65 and over increased 37 percent in 2014 compared to the 2000 population.

Employers struggle to find good workers, especially in Vermont with its low unemployment rate. U.S. employers spend millions of hours each year placing ads, prescreening and interviewing candidates, and hiring and training workers, with many employees deciding to leave to pursue other opportunities. This is understandable, but also frustrating for employers.

So where can businesses find a dependable, steady workforce that has no plans to move up and out? A workforce dedicated to the job that takes pride in its work? Who will cost less to hire, train, and stay? The answer: mature workers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people age 55 and older make up the fastest growing segment of the workforce. The BLS projects that by 2020 this group will make up 28.7 percent of the population with a labor force participation rate of 43 percent. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends project found 54 percent of workers older than 65 are still employed because they want to be — not because they need the money.

A recent American Association of Retired People survey found that more than two-thirds of mature workers indicate that they wish to work either full time or part time after age 65. According to a 2009 Sloan Center on Aging & Work report, hiring managers gave mature workers high marks for loyalty, reliability, and productivity. Employers cannot afford to ignore this population.

Following are key benefits that mature workers bring to employers:

Experience. Mature workers have many years in the workplace that give them an understanding of what is expected by an employer. They are also more willing to share their ideas, and less hesitant to address problems, or speak to management about inefficiencies they see.

Perspective. Mature workers are more confident in their expertise and bring stability to the workplace, often acting as role models and mentors to younger employees. Their experience enables mature workers to make critical, often innovative decisions, considering factors that younger workers simply haven’t yet experienced.

Commitment. Mature workers understand the need for punctuality, regular attendance, and adherence to company guidelines. A 2012 survey of human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management reported that older workers exhibited a greater degree of professionalism and work ethic than younger workers.

Efficiency. The experience mature workers have gives them a strong understanding of how jobs can be done better, which can save companies money. Mature workers with experience can share what has been tried in the past and how it can improve business operations.

Reduced Costs. Many mature workers already have insurance plans from prior employers or Medicare, so they can be flexible with employment. They can also transfer their skills to younger employees. A mature worker can hit the ground running and be effective immediately.

Companies should consider these benefits when hiring. Mature workers’ unique skills and values, and the potential savings to your company in time and money, make hiring them a prudent choice. The next time you have a hiring need, you should seriously consider mature workers. Their contribution to your company could positively impact your bottom line for years to come.

Christopher Loso is vice president of Loso’s Professional Janitorial Services Inc. in South Burlington and former executive at Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte Consulting.

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