Dip Into a New Pool of Talent by Employing Seniors

employing seniors

Are you racking your brains looking for a way to hire employees on a tight budget? Perhaps you’ve even put out want ads for jobs but haven’t found any candidates with the right experience and attitude.

Maybe the problem is that you’re overlooking a huge pool of potential employees: Seniors. (Seriously, we need to come up with a better name for this generation of Americans.)

A study (PDF) from the University of Michigan found that these days, more “mature” Americans are taking “partial retirement.” Already 20 percent of workers aged 65 to 67 and 15 percent of those aged 60 to 62 are partially retired.

Partial retirement itself is a relatively new trend. In 1960, the study reports, only about 5 percent of workers in the 65 to 67 age range were partially retired and among people age 60 to 62, the concept was virtually nonexistent.

What’s Behind the Growth of Partial Retirement?

The study points to several factors. During tough economic times, older workers are more likely to be laid off or choose to exit the work force. However, many either can’t afford to take full retirement, or don’t want to because they enjoy working. As a result, more and more workers over 60 are taking what the study calls “bridge jobs” – lower-paying jobs intended to tide them over until full retirement as opposed to continuing in, or searching for, “career jobs.”

The growth of partial retirement is good news for small business owners, as it’s creating a new pool of potential workers who have lots of experience but are willing to work for less.

The Pros and Cons of Employing Seniors

Below are some of the issues mentioned in a survey (PDF) of hiring managers by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Pro: Seniors Tend to Be Good With People

Often, they want to keep working because they enjoy socializing and don’t want to be isolated at home. This makes them natural “relators” who are likely to be patient and friendly. This type of person can be great as a retail employee, customer service rep, greeter (think Wal-Mart) or in another type of role that involves lots of hand-holding.

Pro: Seniors Have Valuable Experience You Couldn’t Afford to Hire Full-Time

I recently needed new carpet in my home and was trying to match old carpet installed 10 years ago. A senior (partially retired) salesman at the company I worked with was able to identify the brand and find a near-perfect match in a matter of minutes due to his decades of industry knowledge. He was also more efficient than many younger, less experienced people might have been.

Pro: Seniors Can Share Their Knowledge with Junior Employees

Having a senior mentor train younger employees is a great way to bring them up to speed on your industry.

Pro: Seniors Possess Useful Networks

Seniors who have spent a long time in the workforce typically have networks of contacts that can be useful to your business.

Pro: Seniors Have More Dedication

Because their children are grown and they may be widows or widowers, seniors are likely to have more dedication to your business than employees who are juggling marriage, children and family life with the demands of their jobs.

Con: Possibly Less Tech Savvy

Seniors are likely to be less tech-savvy than younger generations who’ve grown up with technology. That said, they are typically very willing to learn, and with a majority of people over 65 now online according to Pew data, they have at least some familiarity with social media, email and other essential tools.

Con: Potential Physical Limitations

Seniors will most likely have physical limitations that younger employees won’t. So if the job requires a lot of walking, standing, lifting or other physical labor, it’s probably not ideal for an older individual. The good news is, as part-timers, they won’t need to be on your company’s health insurance so their health issues won’t raise your rates.

How Can You Find Qualified Seniors?

Tap into senior-related resources in your community, let your connections know you’re looking for senior employees, or advertise on senior job boards such as Senior Job Bank or Workforce 50.

Employee Photo via Shutterstock


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

10 Reactions
  1. Hi,

    Great post! Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips for hiring seniors. I do agree, that they are tons of pro why to hire a senior. Great points!

  2. Rieva,

    Many thanks for covering a topic less talk about in business. I agree that Seniors offer more – often much more – than the rest of the workforce.

    My dad is 74 years old and he’s still holding the position of Commissioner of a multi-national company he’s been a part of for 50 years.

    Not only for the business, Seniors also benefit by getting involved in business. Having goals and focus helps them maintain their well-being.

    Retirement sucks. Just ask my dad.

  3. Yes, I have also seen this trend around me. In the locality I live, one of the persons working for a renowned bank has again started working and again in his own domain and expertize after retirement. When I checked out the pay package, I found out that the person is working almost at 50% of pay of what he used to earn before retirement.

  4. I’m seeing more and more tech savvy among the senior crowd and the knowledge economy already is less physically intense. Great recipe for older workers.

  5. My dad worked into his 70’s. I think he’d work a part-time job in his 80’s if he could – if the opportunity was offered. He’s still active and has always wanted to learn about different things.

    I think there are pros and cons for every group. Seniors are just as resourceful and valuable.

    Thanks for the write-up.

  6. I really think that seniors have more to offer. What they lack in physical strength, they can make up with their experience and expertise. After all, these people are working for years so if they have managed to hone their expertise, they are one of the most talented people you can hire.

    • I don’t think seniors have more or less to offer – compared with younger folk, it all balances out. Like you said, what they lack in one place, they make up for in other areas. I think the same goes for someone younger compared with an older person. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and I don’t think one age group has it particularly more or less than the other.

  7. Yes it is true that older generation have more knowledge patience & experience towards work, I believe hiring them even for a part time basis is a good option. As teaming up of older & young generation is evident to bear fruitful result, since collaboration of hard work & experience can bring a desired result for any company.

  8. Emphasis on the POSSIBLY when it comes to less tech savvy. Some of us are also more tech-savvy. I’ve been an early adopter since 1987, was one of the very first to do electronic print production in the St. Louis area.

    When the web came along, I did balk at coding – at first. Finally I started learning CSS/html at 47, WordPress php at 50. I speak at WordCamps on page design and web typography, and by my late father’s standards, I have 30 years left to build brands and sites. 😉