New York Life Insurance Small Business

Is There a Place for Golden Agers in Your Company?

A major complaint voiced by small business owners is that it's hard to find good people, reliable people, men and women who are motivated, don't need constant supervision and who take pride in their work. According to a 1997 survey by Dun & Bradstreet, 49% of small business executives ranked finding qualified employees as their biggest challenge. And with unemployment at a record low, it is now even tougher than ever to find quality workers. So, where are these people? Do they exist?

Good News
They're all around you. Demographically, they're referred to as "golden agers." They're the millions of retired and semi-retired men and women in this country — many with four or five decades of business or management experience — who have decided they're not quite ready to call it quits and pull up a rocking chair on the front porch. Some need to work to supplement too-small pensions. Others miss the action of being in the business arena or just can't get excited about gardening or golfing. Either way, they are ready to work and they have a lot to offer.

Why Hire Golden Age Employees?
They bring a number of benefits to the workplace. According to companies in the growing field of employment services that specialize in placing older workers, these men and women, as a group, bring a number of pluses to the job. ("Moving Your Business Into The New Millennium," Senior Employment Program. See also: "Myths and Realities: Older Workers," Eric Clearinghouse for Adult, Career, and Vocational Education)

  • They show up with a history of productivity, as well as a lifetime of on-the-job experience that can give your company's information base a boost.
  • They have a lower absenteeism rate due in part to fewer family crises that take them away from work.
  • They have a lower turnover rate and show more loyalty than younger workers.
  • They have fewer accidents and workers compensation claims.
  • They love to work, and bring with them a traditional work ethic, serving as a positive role model for younger workers.

One common belief is that seniors can be more expensive than younger employees. One problem is health insurance costs, which can run two to three times higher for a worker over age 65 than for a 40-year-old. However, several studies have found that, while older workers cost slightly more than younger employees they are more productive and learned just as quickly. Also, many retired workers are already using Medicare or health benefits from a previous job. They may not need benefits. (Wisconsin State Journal, July 10, 1995.)

Do they require special consideration? Not really. In fact, since they tend to have fewer family responsibilities than younger workers (who may require maternity leave, face day-care crises, grow restless in the quest for bigger paychecks, etc.), most require no special treatment. When hiring a golden age employee, keep in mind:

  1. Many would rather work flexible or reduced hours. They've done their 40-hour weeks and many would like part-time hour that allow them to enjoy their family, take vacations, etc. Negotiate hours.
  2. Don't patronize. Watch out for that "speak loudly, they're old" stereotyping that younger people often ask their elders to endure. Most people in their 60s and 70s are as sharp-minded as any 30-year-old.
  3. They want to learn new things. Yes, that means computers, too. It's a myth that people over age 60 can't handle the complexities of computers. Many older workers can't wait to get their hands on computers. In fact, their training periods are often shorter than those for younger employees.
  4. Be aware of older workers' Social Security limits. Employees who are under age 70 and receiving benefits run the risk of having their benefits reduced if they earn more than a specific dollar amount. Plus, above a certain level, benefits will become taxable. This is often the greatest restriction on the amount of hours seniors find it feasible to work.

Is there a place for golden agers in your company? It's worth finding out. Check your local phone book to find out if there is an employment agency in your area that specializes in placing senior workers.

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Is There a Place for Golden Agers in Your Company?

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