Martin Katz, JVS Coordinator of Job Placement
The objective of this article is to dispel a series of myths surrounding the mature worker and identify the benefits to employers of hiring these individuals, generally described as persons 45 years of age and older.
One of the main problems for mature persons to find positions in the job market is the myths that exist with potential employers about this segment of the population.
Among these myths are:
In the last 20+ years there has been a significant loss of jobs in the U.S. due to off-shoring and other economic factors. However, demographics tell us that there will be a severe labor shortage in the coming years. At the same time, the percentage of workers 50+ years old will constitute 30% of the workforce. So it will be advantageous for employers to shed the innate biases that might exist and seriously consider hiring (or retaining) the mature worker. Studies have shown that the concerns noted above have no basis in fact:
There are some organizations that are beginning to recognize the advantages of hiring the mature worker. A large drugstore chain claims that without mature workers they wouldn’t have a company. In the past ten plus years, the company has doubled its “over 55” workforce, which now represents 16% of the company. Internal surveys showed that mature workers called in sick less often than their younger colleagues. Mature workers are often looked upon as being “overqualified” rather than “fully qualified.” Employers are reluctant to take a chance on such candidates, because they assume these individuals might become bored on the job and look for a more challenging opportunity. They may also appear to be too expensive or likely to intimidate their younger colleagues. These conclusions are also faulty.
There are many advantages to hiring mature workers:
In a recent study, key findings about the 45+ workforce have been identified:
As new jobs are created, the workforce shortage will become more apparent and challenging to hiring organizations. Amplifying this problem is the overall change in the nature of the “job.” In our post-industrial economy, the very nature of work has changed. We no longer have jobs for life; telecommuting is becoming more commonplace, as are job-sharing and flexible work schedules; and project work assignments are becoming more the norm. No doubt, the greatest resource available for supporting the new work economy is the abundant source of mature workers.
This article is based on the white paper “Why Maturity Works,” published in December, 2004, by the Maturity Works Subcommittee of the Morris County (NJ) Chamber of Commerce Council for Strategic Human Capital Management. The author of this article was a member of that sub-committee and a contributor to the white paper. A copy of the full white paper is available from the author upon request by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.