Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Having the older and wiser in your workplace

Most business persons will acknowledge that they owe a lot of their success to their employees. Human resources are among the foremost and most expensive resources, and are notoriously hard to build and nurture. While ballooning wages are always under the accountant’s scanner, a business cannot afford to compromise certain positions which require specialized skills and experience. This is where hiring senior part time workers could be a win-win for all.

The aging of population in the developed world and the frenetic growth of developing markets have both created a shortage of able bodied people that industry can draw upon. This has resulted in an extension of retirement age in the former case and recruitment of retirees to fill certain positions in the latter. All in all, hiring older workers on a temporary or part time basis offers several advantages.

The benefits of using temporary help are not unknown. As a business manager, you might have recruited summer trainees, employed contract workers or taken on temp staff for the duration of a short project. But when you take on part-time senior workers, you can deploy them in high impact jobs and in crucial positions since they carry a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. Since seniors are not looking at building a career, your business is spared the weight of large staffing costs in the long run.

But that’s not all. Hiring older people has other merits too. Their innate sense of responsibility means that they can work independently, without supervision. You will also be pleased to know that they value time more and are therefore less likely to be absent or late. To top it all, seniors usually have strong work ethics.

If you would like to hire senior workers on a part time basis in your company, take care of a few details, to maximize results.

Offer them the flexibility to choose their working hours. A lot of older people will not want or be able to handle a stressful sixty hour week. Also, assign tasks that don’t go beyond a few weeks to part-time senior workers, since they may not be in a position to commit for a longer period. Think of them as consultants instead.

Be sensitive to their needs. Just like you provide a crèche to ease the burden of young mothers, ensure that the older personnel have a comfortable working area and a place to rest.

Treat them with respect. A heavy handed approach is not likely to go down well with any employee, least of all the older ones. Watch your words around them. At the same time remember that older, experienced people pick up new tricks pretty quickly, so don’t assume that you cannot expose them to new technology or methods.

On the flip side, hiring seniors might create some conflict among other regular employees, or go against the company’s retirement policy. Consider these implications before you act.

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