By John Self
What do you think when an older adult comes in to apply?
Why is this person applying for an entry-level job?
Must not be able to make it in the real world
Must not want any responsibility
I wonder what’s wrong?
Those are typical first reactions to hiring an older employee today. The truth is that those comments are unfounded, untrue, and just plain wrong. Or stupid. Your choice.
This resistance may just go the way of Blockbuster though, because the great engine of the economy needs more fuel, and that fuel is employees. Employers are being forced to look beyond the usual 18–25-year-olds.
Remember Theory X and Theory Y? No? Theory X had the idea that employees did not want to work while Theory Y had the idea that employees do want to work and work well.
Older works are Theory Y all the way. They typically want to work. That’s right. They WANT to work. Think about it. What are some of the problems that you have with your younger employees?
“I don’t have to work here”.
They know that the business next door will hire them at the drop of a hat.
Big date coming up so I need to have the weekend off (party, beach trip, prom, fraternity/sorority, ad infinitum, ad nauseum)
I don’t feel too well. I can’t come into work today.
I can’t come in to work today. My car broke down.
I can’t come in to work today. One of my kids is sick and I have to stay home.
I can’t come in to work today. The babysitter didn’t come.
I can’t come in to work today. My alarm didn’t wake me.
I can’t come in to work today. I have a major hangover.
I can’t come in to work today. I had a fight with my boy/girl friend, and I lost.
Guess what? Older workers don’t have any of those.
The reality for the vast majority of older workers is that they have the following attributes:
They want to work. That’s really the best attribute all by itself, but there are others.
They want to belong to a group (like everyone else)
They are loyal, they won’t just quit after their first bad day.
They are most likely never going to call off for the weekend (party, beach trip, prom, fraternity/sorority, ad infinitum, ad nauseum)
They are past most of the crises of younger employees.
They probably won’t have kids at home, let alone sick ones, to worry about.
They have both a strong work ethic and a strong sense of responsibility.
They can be great mentors and role models to your younger employees.
They tend to be very reliable, thorough, and conscientious.
So, what’s the problem? Need people? Look to older employees. You won’t be sorry. You’ll probably be very surprised. Pleasantly.