Why Your Association Should Hire Older Employees

Here are a few reasons why associations should consider investing in the hiring and training of older employees.

More older Americans are working now than at any time since 2000, according to a 2016 Pew Research Center analysis.

Some of that’s because of advances in medicine and nutrition, said David Gamse, CEO of the Jewish Council for the Aging. “A 60-, 70-, 80-year-old today can still be vibrant and in good health, and is certainly not the rocking chair generation that we have looked at—or have believed older people to be—in the past.”

Gamse added that more older people are retiring from their perhaps unsatisfying for-profit jobs and looking for a second act in the nonprofit and association sector. But it can be tough for older people to break into the association world, since many times recruiting efforts are aimed at recent college graduates, internship programs are geared toward twentysomethings, and supervisors shy from the challenge of managing intergenerational teams.

But here are just a few reasons why associations should consider bringing older people on board:

They have a lot to offer. “What employers need to recognize is that older people tend to be on time and on the job,” Gamse said. “They tend to have integrated fully what it means to deliver a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.” Above all, they also have a lot of experience, which can benefit an association.

They tend to be loyal. Sometimes employers don’t want to invest in hiring or training older people because they think that after a few years, they will leave the organization for retirement—or even that they will get sick. “Yet, what most employers find is that older workers tend to be more loyal, longer-term employees than many younger workers who tend to be more interested in career advancement—and more willing to job hop to do that,” Gamse said. “An employer’s own data or an industry’s own data can be very persuasive about that.”

Also, it’s the law. “It’s important that employers recognize that there is a federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act,” Gamse said. “It has just celebrated its 50th birthday, and its intent is to ensure that older workers are treated fairly when it comes to employment and promotion and training and all other aspects of the job. In some states and jurisdictions, the localities provide even greater protections.”

But Gamse admits there could be come challenges. “Some people do have antiquated technology skills—that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn,” he said. “However, many older adults learn differently than younger people, and one of the challenges of a training department is not to train everyone alike.” In addition, there could be other challenges managers experience in supervising an intergenerational team, but many of those can also be mitigated through training.

What lessons have you learned in managing an intergenerational staff team? Please leave your comments below.

(MangoStar_Studio/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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