July 5, 2013

Why Older Workers are More Cost Effective

Senior businessman saving some money for his retirementMore employers are finding it cost effective to hire older workers as they will often take a part-time or temporary assignment for less than the hourly rate they commanded when they were working full time. In most cases, employers do not have to pay benefits for part-time/temporary or project-based hires. At will, employees can be off boarded with little or no expense and can usually be hired even when there is a company or departmental hiring freeze as their compensation often comes out of a different budget.

The number of older workers in the workforce is not only growing, it is growing faster than any other age group and older Americans want to continue working; seventy-nine percent of respondents in this survey indicate they will not retire until after 65.

Age Respondents Expect to Work










Another 86 percent of business professionals plan to continue working once they’re eligible to retire.








This BLS chart shows the increase by age group, so employers that have developed programs to utilize older workers will have a substantial advantage over those who have not, and they will also have an expanded labor pool for recruitment.

Age                Age              Age                 Age             Age                   Age
                60-64            65-74            75-84              85+        60 & older    65 & older

2010  16,757,689      21,462,599   13,014,814      5,751,299     56,986,401     40,228,712
2020  21,008,851     32,312,186   15,895,265      6,597,019    75,813,321       54,804,470
2030  20,079,650    38,784,325  24,562,604     8,744,986    92,171,565       72,091,915
2040  20,512,884    36,895,223  30,145,467      14,197,701    101,751,275     81,238,391
2050  23,490,423    40,112,637   29,393,295     19,041,041    112,037,396    88,546,973

There are a number of reasons why some employers feel hiring older workers create “hidden” expenses. Listed below are a few research shows are untrue:

1. Older workers take more sick days than their younger counterparts. Surveys prove this is false.

2. Healthcare costs are increased. They are actually less for older workers because most no longer have small children as dependents on their health care plans.

3. Older workers have more absenteeism. Surveys prove this is false.

There are many employers that recognize the strengths of older workers. When the Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey of attitudes toward older workers, 60 percent of the 308 HR departments surveyed said that older workers are more reliable and 59 percent said older workers have a stronger work ethic than younger ones.

Many employers encourage their retirees to return to work on a seasonal or part-time basis and find less training is required as these employees already know what is expected of them and also understand the company culture.

Reasons employers should hire retirees and older workers on a part-time or temporary basis or for project assignments:

  • It is usually not necessary to pay company benefits, like health care insurance.
  • Temporary/part-time workers can be off-boarded with comparatively little or no cost.
  • If your company has a hiring freeze, hiring temporary/part-time employees usually comes from a different budget.
  • Older workers generally require less training, have lower absenteeism and tend to be more punctual.
  • Older workers have a better commitment to quality; possess superior customer service skills; have better people skills;  and are more eager to learn new skills.
  • Older workers have a positive attitude.
  • Most temporary, part-time and project-based employees do not require unemployment insurance coverage.

Reaching Older Workers

Many older workers will not apply for positions that may be appropriate for them as they often feel they will be discriminated against because of their age. This is a good reason to go to niche boards that target this demographic. It is also a reason to craft a message tailored to an older worker audience. Check out sites like: RetiredBrains.com, seniors4hire.org, retirementjobs.com and seniorjobbank.org. Some of these sites, like RetiredBrains.com, have posting packages that allow employers to post unlimited jobs.

Employers have used the following to both keep current older workers interested in continuing to work as well as to interest retirees in working for them:

  • Programs that allow older workers to work more flexible hours.
  • Programs that allow older workers to work part-time jobs or temporary assignments. Managers and executives can work project assignments.
  • Programs that allow older workers to work from home or remotely (telecommuting) part or all of the time.
  • Job sharing programs for older workers.
  • Programs that outsource the task of hiring and employing older workers and retirees that wish to return to work or continue working for those employers that find this difficult to initiate internally.
  •  Programs that provide recognition and support to older workers as money is not necessarily the most important factor for this demographic.
  •  Training programs to assist and coach hiring mangers to initiate talks with retirement eligible employees without subjecting the company to problems of age discrimination. In most cases, the costs of training/retraining older workers is substantially less than replacing them when all costs of hiring and training new employees are included.
  •  Shadowing programs where younger or new employees can learn from first-hand experience the skills retiring employees perform.






Read more in Age Discrimination

Art graduated from Dartmouth College in 1957 and did his postgraduate work at the University of Chicago Executive Program. He started his career with the Chicago Sun Times after which he spent 40 years in advertising communications with both local and national ad agencies.

After "retiring" Art spent several years as a consultant working with employers involving the aging work force and with seniors addressing the challenges facing them as they prepared for retirement.

Art founded RetiredBrains.com in early 2003 and the site has developed into a major destination for boomers, retirees and people planning retirement. RetiredBrains provides information on a wide variety of subjects and includes a free job board connecting employers looking to hire older workers with seniors and boomers looking for employment.

Art’s book Invent Your Retirement Resources for the Good Life, published by
Oakhill Press is a complete reference guide for those planning retirement and for retirees themselves.

Art can be reached via
Twitter https://twitter.com/artkoff