It is estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that by 2014 approximately 78 million baby boomers will leave the workforce. At the same time, just over 75 million workers will follow to replace them. However, numerous reports tell us that on the whole, baby boomers are planning later retirements, and many are seeking “encore” careers – allowing them to keep working past retirement age. Some are doing so because “working hard” has helped define this generation, others for economic reasons. Whatever the motivation, they want to work, and based on official projections, employers are going to need them.
This three part series will explore ways for employers to invest in the experience of mature workers and meet growing labor market demands.
Part One: You Can’t Teach Attitude
Human resource professionals usually hope for the ideal candidate: someone who has superior job skills AND is proficient in “soft skills” such as a responsibility, honesty, integrity, excellent communication, ability to problem-solve, open to learning, and so on.
They can dream, can’t they?
In reality, the hiring manager often has to decide between the person with excellent job skills and a poor attitude, or someone with “good enough” job skills, a great attitude and is teachable in the specific requirements of the job. According to experts, the second candidate is often the best choice.
In today’s workforce, one group that has these exceptional soft skills is mature workers (age 55 and older). In a recent survey that was conducted as a part of the Mature Workers’ Concerns During Job Transition research project coordinated by the L.A. County Workforce Investment Board, Mature Worker Council, and Dr. Pam Gefke, of the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University, employers reported that mature workers are viewed as being “ethical, loyal and experienced” and having “credibility, commitment and good judgment.” These workers are also perceived by employers to lack technology and computer skills.
Most employers will say that you typically can’t change who people are, but you can change what they know. So when choosing between a younger worker who has been using a computer since they could walk, but may lack commitment, ethics and life experience, and a mature worker with a fantastic attitude, who is teachable, which hire makes the best business sense?
Next in Part Two: Stop Throwing Your Money Away – Understanding the Cost of Turnover
If you are an employer, to access a pool of motivated mature workers, contact your local WorkSource Center. Visit http://www.worksourcecalifornia.com/ and click the Business Resources link on the left. Mature workers seeking employment may also visit the same site and click on Services for Job Seekers.
Human Solutions LLC specializes in disability and workforce development solutions for employers.