Older Workers Provide More Workplace Value than Job-Hopping Millennials


Last updated 5/14/2015 at 7:16pm | View PDF

Seniors and baby boomers are living longer, working harder and challenging negative stereotypes of aging by providing more workplace value than their millennial counterparts.

"The national retirement age of 65 was set 80 years ago, but with the 20th century's greatest gift of 30 years added to longevity, this outdated policy perpetuates negative perceptions of older workers," said human resources and aging expert William Zinke. "With 109 million Americans including every baby boomer now over 50, this is not just about living longer – it's a wake-up call to recognize their ability to contribute to the nation's economic growth. Older workers deliver productive engagement, and their job tenure is almost four times longer than younger workers. They are key to recalibrating our overburdened Social Security and other entitlement programs."

Dr. Janice Wassel, associate professor of gerontology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, talks about the "phenomenal aspects of growing older," and notes that employers, managers and human resource professionals are taking notice of this important demographic megatrend.

"Research shows that the mind actually gets sharper with age in a number of vital areas including cognitive skills, multi-tasking and managing conflict and compromise," she said. "Negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear become less pronounced than in the drama-filled younger years."

HR managers, frustrated with the chronic job-hopping of the millennial generation, are becoming wary of hiring, training and then losing employees after one or two-year stints, with little return on investment. The work ethic, strong work commitment and higher motivation of older workers are receiving greater attention in strategic workforce planning.

HR professionals increasingly view older workers as more reliable, dependable and committed to their work. They require less training than younger workers, and also can serve as experienced mentors and coaches. Their lower turnover rates are convincing managers to reallocate recruiting and training budgets away from the 20-24 and 25-34 age groups (who average 1.3 and 3.0 years of job tenure respectively) and more toward the 55-64 age group (whose average tenure is 10.4 years).

With the mission to persuade America that people 50+ are significant contributors, Zinke founded Enrich Life Over 50 (ELO50) in 2014 as a national grassroots movement designed to regenerate millions of people in their extended longevity.

One of the first ELO50 chapters is being formed in Boston, with its inaugural meeting on June 10. For more information, visit http://www.elo50.com.


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