Generally speaking, a strong economy is good for everyone, but with historically low national unemployment and increasing employment turnover, filling open positions with qualified applicants can be very challenging for HR departments! One source for filling these open positions is older employees. In spite of an improving economy, some companies and industries are not thriving, and many older workers find themselves seeking employment after a layoff.
So why should your organization consider qualified, older applicants to fill your open positions? First, it’s the law. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age-based employment discrimination. While we hope no employer would intentionally discriminate based on an employee’s age, employment decisions may have an adverse impact upon older applicants and employees. Unfortunately, age discrimination claims still make up a very high percentage of all claims. According to the EEOC, age discrimination claims in 2015 accounted for 22.5 percent of all claims nationally (fifth overall) and 22.1 percent of all claims in Utah (fourth overall).
Second, older employees possess a great foundation of experience and knowledge. Younger employees may leave the company before acquiring that same level. Certainly there will be some jobs that older workers aren’t physically qualified to perform, but they generally aren’t seeking those types of jobs, anyway.
Third, older employees are reliable, dedicated, and loyal to their companies, as evidenced by turnover data. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies reports that over the last 18 available quarters, employee turnover rates reduce consistently and significantly with an increase in the age of employees:
Ages 14 to 24: 23 percent turnover
Ages 25 to 34: 10.8 percent turnover
Ages 35 to 44: 7.6 percent turnover
Ages 45 to 54: 6.4 percent turnover
Ages 55 to 64: 5.6 percent turnover
With high levels of work experience, knowledge, loyalty, and lower turnover rates, why wouldn’t you want to include older applicants in your recruiting strategies?