We don’t often associate mature professionals with dynamism and creativity or having a zest for life. We tend to see people who are entering career twilight as on the way out rather than on the way up. We associate age with decline. And this is to our detriment.
Although little known, there have been plenty of studies that show we are just as creative and entrepreneurial when we get older as we were in our twenties. Combine this with experience and what you have is a fusion of ideas, hard work, and inventiveness.
As such, plugging a skills gap with mature professionals brings advantages.
Generally, you are more settled and comfortable in your own skin when you get older. You have walked the walk and talked the talk. You have the t-shirt, and you often feel you have nothing to prove. Your priorities have changed over time. You are now a very different person to how you were twenty, thirty years ago.
Compare to this to when you were in your twenties. You had an eye on the future. You were probably goal-driven and thinking about your career in terms of two years here, two years there. You were probably always looking for the next move ahead. Now you are further round the track your mind is calmer. You no longer want to move from company to company; you value stability and are better able to focus at work.
As well as being a means of employment, work is a form of socialising. The older you get, the more you value the company of people. Most workers over 65 are working because they want to and like to keep busy rather than because they need the money. The older you become, the more you see work as an extension of your life and not just a means of paying the bills.
Older workers tend to look for something stable. This is how they fund their lifestyle and often their children and grandchildren’s lifestyles too. As such, they are less likely to leave. This was shown in a study carried out by the Bureau of Labor in the United States. The 55–64 age group tended to have worked for the same employer for just over ten years. The 45–54 age group had been with their employer for just over seven.
Employees that stay longer not only know the company and understand their role within it better, but the company does not have to spend money and lose time training new staff as existing ones leave.
As you work through your career, you pick up more and more connections. Should an employer need to find a new supplier or specialist, the more seasoned staff may know of one. With a few phone calls, they plug a gap that may not have been plugged for weeks, diverting resources away from business goals as the search was undertaken and evaluated.
Last but not least is experience. The older guy (or girl) will have the most important attribute in abundance, experience. As such, they tend to fit into the organisation faster and value work ethics.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, experience was the best advantage older workers brought to the table at 77%. This was followed by maturity and professionalism at 71%, and better work ethics at 70%.
Experience translates to many things. You are better prepared for when unforeseen eventualities occur. You are better equipped to take charge and lead. You are a better teacher and able to impart your skills. You have better business sense and understand how to apply that business sense to achieve better results.
And being that little bit older you’re not texting all day, and it is a point of pride to show up on time.
Plugging the Skills Gap
If you have a skills gap, the older workforce brings advantages. Leverage these advantages, and you will have a better organisation.