“Looking for staff in all the wrong places” – the value of mature workers. Five misconceptions

This blog contains many links to previous blogs and resources on this topic. Please explore them!

Many of you may remember the popular country western song “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” from Johnny Lee in 1980. Nowadays, it seems like so many companies looking for qualified people and complaining they can’t find any are looking in the wrong places. At the same time companies are moaning about labor shortages, I know of many great talented qualified older adults looking for work, getting passed over or not even being considered.

Here are some misconceptions about mature talent:

1) Older experienced workers are overpriced since they want to continue making or increasing their current salaries. Actually many senior workers are now financially secure and not working because they need to. They are working because they want to keep busy and their bodies and minds active. Many are willing to take part time, seasonal and lower paying work.

2) Older workers are slow and cannot learn new skills. Many older adults love to continue to learn and grow and view themselves as life long learners. They are excited about learning new things and understand the importance of keeping current in their fields. For example I myself continue as a diversity consultant and trainer at 66 years old, and each year like to add one new expertise to my portfolio. For example, in 2021, I added work around supporting nonbinary people in the workplace, and use of pronouns. (see my recent blog about this subject.)

3) Older people will probably miss more work because of illness. Not true. Most seniors are very loyal to their employers and will place a high priority on living healthy so they can provide their best services to their employers.

attractive woman 50 years old with a folder for documents

4) Older workers will be inflexible and not deal with schedule changes. Actually many senior workers would prefer to work part time or take on seasonal work and be available during peak times when additional staff are needed.

5) Older workers will clash with the younger talent. Yes, there are some older people who stereotype the younger generations as lazy or entitled, and frankly I would not want to work with bigots who stereotype entire groups of people myself. When hiring mature talent, look for those people who value diversity and enjoy teaming with and understanding the value that young people add to the workplace. Combining the creativity and understanding of the latest technology that young people have with the experience and market knowledge of the older generations can create powerful success for your organization.

Here are a few more points and links to blogs:
• Job-sharing (two people working part time) may be an ideal situation for mature talent that wants to work part time. Read my case study (part 1) on job sharing followed by the summary blog of 5 tips for successful job sharing.
• My 2013 blog about considerations of older talent and issues in the workplace.
• This 2020 blog linked to two podcasts interviews I participated in around older employees and veterans
• AARP has a robust set of resources for the working older adult.

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Please be in touch with me to discuss my consulting and training services around inclusive recruiting, or sign up for my 4 hour DiversityFIRST Virtual Suite “Inclusive Recruiting – the Why and the How on Aug 17, 2022.  Link and scroll down to August.


Five Tips and Best Practices for Engaging Senior Talent Through Job Sharing – Part 2

Rev Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson and Rev. Vickie Miller are two experienced pastors featured in the job sharing case study in part 1 of this blog.

Many of us continue to read about the growing labor shortage across the US, especially as the number of younger trained professionals entering the workforce is far less that the huge numbers of retiring “baby boomers” born between 1946 – 1965. One way of addressing this shortage is better utilization of the mature worker, many who may not be ready for full retirement.

Great ways of utilizing this excellent source of skilled resource is part time work or sharing a full time position between two or more part time mature workers. In part 1 of this series, I presented a case study of a church in Florida which recently hired two part-time pastors to fill what was initially publicized as a single full time senior pastor position.

Please read part 1 – this interview with Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, one of the pastors who took half of this senior pastor job.

Now I would like to offer five tips / best practices / advantages for hiring two part people to fill one full time position, the first four coming from the case study shared in the blog part 1:

1) Seek complementary skills from the two candidates. Take advantage of this opportunity of getting two people for the price of one. When hiring one single person, you may often need to weigh each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses to another, but with two people, you can bring in two different sets of skills and also cover the weaknesses one person may have.

2) Do make sure that both people can team well and work together. In some cases, the two candidates may have a prior working or personal relationship and know they can work together. In other cases, you may need to interview the two candidates together and also contact references to specifically discuss how well each person works with others.
3) Realize that the cost may be a little more than the original budget for the one person. Often mature experienced workers will required a somewhat higher pay than an inexperienced person, and each may want to work a little more than 20 hours a week. But you may also save some on benefits (employees over 65 could be on Medicare), and you will probably get a lot more value in terms of knowledge, hard work and dedication from these employees

4) Have a plan in place in case one of the pair leaves or retires. You could ask that each person give you two months notice before leaving as part of the agreement to give you time to backfill. You could also ask the remaining part timer to work full time temporarily to pick up the slack, and also involve them in the hiring process of the new “second half.”

5) In addition to seeking outside candidates, consider the mature workers you currently have on board. Some may welcome a shared part time position as an ideal transition between working full time and full time retirement.

Do think creatively! I do hope this two part series is both inspirational and practical in terms of addressing alternatives to employment resources.