The Great Resignation sparked by the COVID pandemic and members of the Baby Boom generation aging out of the workforce simultaneously created a shortage of older, experienced workers in a labor force already facing an increased number of unfilled positions.

Employers were hurt not only by the number of employees exiting the workforce, but particularly by the loss of experienced workers.

There are many senior workers of pre-retirement age (55+) available to fill those roles, but they are often overlooked or undervalued as potential new hires. Reasons for this may range from an expectation that older workers will expect higher pay, or that it is unwise to train new staff members who may not have longevity in their position.

Because labor shortages still persist across many industries, however, looking to overcome those concerns and seek new hire prospects from an older pool of candidates may be a valuable hiring strategy for several key reasons.

Older Employees Provide Specific Benefits

Mentorship is perhaps the most obvious value that older workers offer to the workforce, closely followed by experience and accumulated knowledge, which continue to accrue even after someone has reached their peak in cognitive skills. These are assets that cannot be taught to younger workers; they are the product of working and problem-solving for decades.

Older workers can also bring diverse and unique points of view to a younger work group by providing alternative takes on problem-solving approaches, efficiency and money saving strategies, business development, customer retention and team building.

Senior Workers Want to Work

As an unpredictable stock market creates instability and uncertainty for many retirement plans, a steady supply of senior workers are seeking employment instead of retirement. In addition to financial necessity, lengthening lifespans, and the need for purposeful activity are strong forces pulling workers back into the labor pool.

And that is a trend likely to grow. As birthrates continue to plummet and lifespans lengthen, workers older than age 55 will make up an increasing percentage of the workforce.

Further, research shows that senior workers stay in jobs longer and take fewer days off. This can be of benefit to a workplace that may be experiencing increased absences or turnover issues with younger employees.

What Senior Workers Want Is (Surprisingly) Similar, but Different from Their Younger Colleagues

Flexible schedules, working for value-driven companies and work/life balance considerations are coveted by both young and experienced workers.

In one recent survey from AARP, workers age 40 and up listed their key priorities as:

  1. Meaningful work
  2. Easy commute
  3. Flexibility in work arrangement / work from home opportunities

For older workers, healthcare coverage is also a key consideration—ahead of pay—but the promise of retirement plans and positions that offer career growth are not as highly ranked.

Don’t Miss an Opportunity to Balance the Workplace

With the supply of older workers increasingly available, the unique attributes they possess combined with the lack of data to back up their perceived dip in job-related abilities, it seems a missed opportunity to dismiss the value senior job seekers bring to companies.