Are older workers more expensive? It depends. And, in some cases, it is worth it. By acting on this assumption, we are missing out on too much talent.
Compensation & real costs
Older workers do not always demand higher compensation. For instance, new hires may be fine with the same salary. Plus, some older workers are motivated more by meaningful work than by salary.
Other considerations can offset out-of-pocket costs for salaries. For instance, experienced workers need less training time and cost. Also, older workers are often more productive, have fewer absences and are more loyal. The average employee stays with a company for four to five years. Workers over 50 or 60 may work for decades longer.
Do not confuse speed with results. Training older workers can be worth the investment. “While older workers may require somewhat more time to learn a new skill or process, evidence indicates they have greater retention, higher learning achievement and are far more likely to complete their field of study.”
Health care costs are not always larger for older workers. Older workers may not be not carrying policies for dependents or partners. Additionally, Medicare covers those 65 and older.
Older adults are in better health now than ever before. “Because of improvements in healthcare, those additional years of life do not represent additional years of infirmity. The reality is the years of seriously diminished abilities and age-related illness are coming later and are usually fewer in number.”
Alternate work arrangements
Not all older workers want full-time hours or fixed schedules, just as all do not want to be managers again. Flexible hours, contract positions and other alternatives structures appeal to many older workers. This means that a business has the opportunity to utilize their expertise, without some of the costs of a full-time employee.
Are older workers more expensive? It isn’t that simple
The biggest take-away here is that we need to drop our assumptions about older workers. Not all workers of a certain age are the same. As with people of all ages, motivations and skills vary with each person. The job of the hiring manager is to secure the best talent for the position, and that means that all factors need to be considered. Do not shut out the talent right in front of you just based on a few gray hairs.
Are you making other wrong assumptions about older workers? Read more.
Want to learn more about the case for intergenerational workplaces? Check out our page on age-friendly workplaces. Changing the Narrative can also come to you. To set up a presentation or get more information, contact us.
Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger