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Susan M. Heathfield

Hire Older Workers

By October 14, 2013

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With older workers facing a tough time in the current job market, I expanded my blog post about maintaining workplace relevance at any age into a full article with additional thoughts and suggestions about staying relevant in the workplace.

A popular topic at any time, in this job market, holding on to the job you have is paramount. This topic hits a nerve, I think, because, after a certain age, older workers are often more expensive and workplace myths about their workplace habits and idiosyncrasies abound - deserved or not.

In HR, avoiding any hint of age discrimination is so important that the law allows employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects an employee who is 40 or younger. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the decisions of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), which was created by the Act, have defined the landscape for what constitutes discrimination at work.

The EEOC's responsibility is to "promote equal opportunity in employment through administrative and judicial enforcement of the federal civil rights laws and through education and technical assistance."

So, legalities supposedly protect older workers from age discrimination, but anyone who is job searching in this economic climate, knows that age is a liability in many instances. I am receiving an email a day from older workers who are job searching and know that they are not receiving job offers based on their age, experience, and former pay range.

In fact, some employers are telling them that they are not hiring them because the minute the economy picks back up, the older worker will move on to a better job that pays what they made before unemployment. (Most ask me if it is illegal for employers to make these decisions about older workers based on age.)

Hiring and Keeping Older Workers

I say, shame on employers. You have the opportunity to hire an older, more experienced worker who will bring knowledge and skills to your company. Why not give the older worker the opportunity to contribute for as long as you employ them?

For one thing, the economy is unlikely to improve anytime soon. For another, take advantage of the fact that these skilled individuals have much to offer your firm - for as long as they stay. Indeed, older workers often have a record of longevity and loyalty at companies that hire them. Consider whether your company provides a workplace culture and environment in which an experienced worker is happy and contributing. That employee might not be so excited to jump from a good ship where they are valued, for a few thousand dollars a year.

To round up all of the directions in today's post, older workers must stay relevant. Older workers must make holding on to their current employment a priority. Employers need to consider hiring older workers and valuing their skills and experience. Employers need to provide a work environment that attracts older workers to stay - even when the economy begins to recover.

Image Copyright Josh Webb

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