As the population in the United States ages, business leaders are discovering that older workers are not only “up to the job,” but may in many cases be better at it than younger employees. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics1, the over-65 age group is the fastest growing segment of the job market, and more than 13 million Americans in this age group are still working.
Here are a few of the reasons why older workers can be a great choice for employers:
(1) Focus on the Job
Early- and mid-career workers are often preoccupied with career advancement. Their focus is on the things they need to do in order to move on to the “next job.”
Older workers tend to be less concerned with advancement, and more focused on satisfaction and accomplishment in their current job.
(2) Good Interim Workers
Older workers have the experience and skills to fill many positions. They can be an excellent choice to fill a position on a temporary basis, while you conduct a search for a permanent hire.
(3) Great Learners
Older workers have had to re-invent themselves many times over the course of their careers. They know how to go about acquiring new knowledge and skills.
While short-term recall and rapid recall decline as the brain ages, studies show that older brains are actually better at integrating new knowledge with existing knowledge. Studies also show that the decline in rapid recall is largely due to the fact that older people simply know more, so there is more knowledge for the brain to sift through.
(4) Strong Work Ethic
According to a 2010 Pew Research Center survey2, “Nearly six in 10 respondents cited work ethic as one of the big differences between young and old. Asked who has the better work ethic, about three-fourths of respondents said that older people do.”
According to a report published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics3, “the length of time a worker remains with the same employer increases with the age at which the worker began the job.” The report found that tenure for workers with their current employer was highest for the oldest workers at 10.2 years. For those between the ages of 55 and 64, this number was 9.9 years and 7.6 years for those between 45 and 54 years old.
(6) Strong Networks
Older workers have larger networks of colleagues and associates to draw on. A study conducted by The Center on Aging and Work at Boston College found that 46.3 percent of employer respondents said that their older employees have stronger professional networks and client networks compared to younger workers.
(7) More Productive
Surprisingly, studies have shown that productivity increases as workers age4. This may be due to greater knowledge and experience, or to better focus.
(8) Better Leaders
Older workers score high on tasks requiring leadership, detail-orientation, organization, listening, writing skills and problem solving — even in cutting-edge fields like computer science.
Businesses are Taking Note
These are a few of the reasons why companies are turning to older workers. In G7 countries, over 150 million jobs are expected to shift to workers over 55 by 2030, accounting to more than a quarter of the workforce5. In Japan, workers over 55 are expected to account for 40% of the workforce6.
- Who’s Working More? People Age 65 and Older. Kenneth Terrell. AARP. November 22, 2019.
- Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. Pew Research Center. February 14, 2010.
- Number of Jobs, Labor Market Experience, Marital Status, and Health for those Born 1957-1964. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. August 22, 2023.
- Productivity in older versus younger workers: A systematic literature review. C A Viviani et al. Work. 2021.
- Better with Age: The Rising Importance of Older Workers. James Root et al. Bain & Company, 2023.
- How can Japan turn its ageing workforce into an advantage? Kate Birch. Business Chief Asia. July 24, 2023,