Don’t overlook seniors when hiring

By 2020, about 25 percent of the workforce will be age 55 or older, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many employers are reluctant to hire seniors, but research proves seniors can be happier, more loyal, and positive than their younger counterparts.

A shocking experience with a human resources department motivated me to write on this topic. One of my clients has a wholesale/retail business and was looking to hire six to eight new employees for different departments. Human resources started interviewing numerous applicants. I became aware that a younger applicant was interviewed for 30 to 45 minutes, while a senior applicant was questioned for 10 to 20 minutes. Why did human resources appear prejudiced against giving the older applicant a fair shot?

At the end of the day, I questioned the human resources employee. Why had she spent more time with the younger applicants than the older ones? Her answer shocked and angered me.

“The older person cannot concentrate or work as well as the younger person, and there is no future for them in the company because of their age,” she said.

I couldn’t sleep that night thinking about her response. This was the unfortunate and disappointing policy at many companies. Each applicant must be judged as individuals, I thought, not by their age.

The next day I met with my client, CEO of the company. He was unhappy with what I reported. Would I take over the interviewing process, he asked me. I had many years of hiring experience, and he was confident with my experience and counsel.

After five days I hired three overqualified, happy seniors and five younger people.

Here are some of the qualities that I saw in the senior candidates that research shows seniors possess overwhelmingly:

•They were not unhappy. MetLife recently completed its annual survey of employee benefits and found that younger employees are often unhappy these days. Older workers tend to be more appreciative.

•They were not going to jump ship. MetLife also found alarming percentages of younger workers would like to be working somewhere other than their current employer and are, therefore, less loyal.

•Benefits were not as crucial. Research found that much more pressure for better benefits comes from younger workers who do not believe Social Security and Medicare benefits will be around for their later years. Older workers are collecting these benefits now and have greater confidence in them.

•They had good leadership skills, are focused on getting the job done, and have had many years of networking.

•They have been working their entire lives; one can only imagine what wealth of knowledge they can share, not only with their younger fellow employees, but with their bosses.

These merits earned the senior workers their jobs and proved their value as employees. I would implore owners of companies to make sure your human resource office is giving the time to interviewing and hiring older people. You will not regret it.

Milton J. Paris, president of Getting Ahead in Business, will host Business Meet N’ Greets 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 12 at Mirch, 1655 Oak Tree Road, Edison ($15), 5:30-7:30 p.m. May 14, Ibis Plaza Office Suites, 3535 Quakerbridge Road, Hamilton ($15), 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 20, Omega Diner, 1337 Route 1 south, North Brunswick ($13.50, plus tax). Omega attendees will receive 10 percent off future dining. RSVP to 732-306-0040 or Milton@gettingaheadinbusiness.com. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. isit www.gettingaheadinbusiness.com.