Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring from our workforce, including the food & beverage industry.

So why is the average age of workers going up – and not down?

For a number of reasons, people are remaining in the workforce longer than ever before.  Increased longevity, shrunken retirement funds and a major recession have forced people to work longer, purely for economic reasons.  In addition, many individuals now choose to work beyond retirement age in order to stay useful and mentally active.

So, are “senior” food & beverage employees a secret weapon for your business or a drain on resources?  Employers’ views are mixed.  When the Society for Human Resource Management conducted its most recent survey of attitudes toward older workers, 60% of the personnel managers surveyed said that older workers are more reliable and 59% said that older workers have a stronger work ethic than younger ones.  On the other hand, 49% said that older workers don’t keep up with technology and 38% said such workers create higher health care costs.

Overcoming Stereotypes

Mature workers often face obstacles in finding employment due to beliefs like the ones listed above.  Here are a few of the most common misconceptions employers have about older workers:

  • They are more expensive to employ.  Honestly?  Though they may take longer to recover from injuries, studies show that they use fewer sick days on the whole than their younger counterparts.  Their health care costs are actually less, because most no longer have small children as dependents on their health care plans.  Finally, older workers become eligible for Medicare at 65, which can further reduce an employer’s health care bills.
  • They are less productive.  Not true. In a 2009 report from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, hiring managers gave mature employees high marks for productivity and loyalty.  Other research indicates that older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, and superior interpersonal and service skills.  When it comes to job performance, mature individuals outdo younger ones in many areas.
  • They are ill-equipped to juggle the technological distractions of today’s “modern office.” In fact, decline in cognitive skills starts in the early 20s – and can be delayed with physical exercise. So, a smart, active 75-year-old could easily outperform a 40-year-old slouch.
  • They have lost interest in their jobs.  The reality?  Older workers aren’t just “putting in time” on the job.  Studies have found that individuals who worked past retirement age actually became more engaged and satisfied with their jobs.

Older individuals bring a lifetime of skills and contacts to their work and can be highly productive employees, if you are willing to move beyond stereotypes and accommodate their needs.  Here’s how to leverage the power of the mature employees in your food & beverage business:

  • Capitalize on mentoring opportunities.  Mature workers have a wealth of experience, so create opportunities for them to share their knowledge and advice with your younger employees.
  • Give them flexibility.  Many older workers want to stay in the workforce, but prefer to work fewer hours.  If possible, offer contract assignments, part-time positions, or positions with less travel to these employees.
  • Improve their technology skills.  Contrary to popular belief, older workers welcome job challenge and learning.  Provide training opportunities for mature employees to close tech skills gaps and make these workers even more valuable to your organization.

Looking to build your team?  We have the high performing professionals and executives you need, in a wide range of age and experience levels.  Contact Kinsa Group today to learn more about our executive food & beverage recruiting services.

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