Millennials are all the rage these days and for good reason. They already are the largest generation in the US workforce, according to Pew. By 2030, it’s expected that millennials will account for 75% of all US professionals, as noted by Wired.
But just because all the emphasis is placed on millennials doesn’t mean you should neglect to hire older workers altogether. According to Bloomberg, nearly 20% of Americans age 65 and older are still working — the largest portion of this age group has been working since the 1960s. As the Pew study linked above points out, 29% of the workforce is currently composed of baby boomers, while 34% of it is made up of Gen Xers. Phrased another way, 63% of the people in the workforce are not millennials.
While you should certainly hire millennials, you should also hire folks from older generations. Here’s why:
Older workers have been around the block. They’ve learned how business works and they have skills and experience that they can pass on to future generations. Older workers make great mentors and are able to help their younger colleagues develop professionally. As a result of mentorships, stronger relationships can develop among your workers, which should lead to a more enjoyable culture and work environment — and an increase in employee engagement.
While millennials were reared in the age of instant messaging and social media, older workers developed soft skills by talking to people on a face-to-face basis. As a result, many of these older folks tend to be better conversationalists. They’ve been through more in life and simply have more knowledge than their younger peers. Hire older workers if you want your employees to have engaging conversations with one another.
Older workers don’t lose sleep over whether their organizations value them or not. They know what they bring to the table, and they know that their track record speaks for itself. When new ideas come down the pike, older workers will speak up if they perceive those ideas to be ineffective. They are confident in their age and their experience, which helps their organizations make better decisions.
It’s no secret that many millennials move from job to job. In addition to the skills and experience older workers bring to the job, research shows they also tend to be more loyal. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when an employee begins a job between the ages of 18 and 24, there’s a 69% chance that they’ll leave the job within one year and a 93% chance they’ll leave within five years. On the flip side, when a worker begins a job between the ages of 40 and 48, there’s a 32% chance they’ll be gone within one year and a 69% chance they’ll leave within five years. Older workers are more likely be part of the team for a longer period of time.
Since older workers have been employed elsewhere, they’ve developed their own Rolodex of contacts. You never know when an older worker will have a great strategic connection. Maybe their college roommate, for example, is a successful businessperson who owns a company that could really help your organization make it to the next level. When you hire an older worker, you hire their network, to a certain extent, along with them.