Are older workers retail’s ideal employees?
Many older boomers are delaying retirement. And when they do, they sometimes wind up getting a part-time job at retail. A movie, "The Intern," that came out Friday paid homage to the knowledge an older worker can deliver to a business.
In the comedy, Robert De Niro plays a 70-year old retired widower who gets bored and joins a "senior intern program" at a fast-growing online fashion retailer. While receiving mixed reviews, highlights mentioned seeing Ben (Mr. De Niro’s character) helping the overwhelmed founder, played by Anne Hathaway, manage business and family challenges while mentoring the other tech-savvy twenty-somethings on staff.
"Many of the best moments in the film involve placing Ben in relief to the younger male employees who become his de facto charges, as they learn the wonders of a briefcase, the power of tucking in a shirt or the importance of taking responsibility for their sloppy cluelessness," wrote Mark Olsen for the Los Angeles Times.
Numerous studies and articles have detailed how older workers are working past traditional retirement age because of limited savings and escalating health care costs amid longer life expectancies. But many Boomers are also doing so to stay engaged and for mental stimulation.
Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures, “The Intern”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022, more than 25 percent of U.S. workers will be 55 years old or older, up from 14 percent in 2002. According to AARP, nearly 10,000 Boomers reach retirement age every day.
Like Ben in "The Intern," older workers can serve as mentors for younger ones.
In a recent column for the Winston-Salem Journal, Randy Wooden, a career consultant, writes that older workers don’t need the level of training and personal development that younger employees do and are generally content with their roles.
"Statistically, older workers are actually apt to stay with you longer than that 22-year-old looking to quickly climb the ladder," he writes. "Older workers possess maturity, wisdom gained (in part) by past mistakes, work ethic, they have had been through the issues of childcare, and in general, they know what they want out of their work/life balance."
Older workers may need unique training and are likely less tech-savvy. (Mr. De Niro’s character joins Facebook for the first time in the movie.)
As far as attracting seniors, a survey from Society for Human Resource Management listed the top steps to recruit and retain older workers as: reduced hours, mentioned by 48 percent of older survey respondents; flexible scheduling, 37 percent; and providing training to upgrade skills, 29 percent.
- ‘The Intern’ is a Nancy Meyers comedy, for better or worse – Los Angeles Times
- A little too tidy, but ‘The Intern’ does a good job – San Francisco Gate
- More companies turning to older workers – WWLP
- Preparing for the ‘Silver Tsunami’ – Government Executive
- Preparing for an Aging Workforce – Society for Human Resource Management
- Listen up, employers: Hiring older workers – Winston-Salem Journal
Should retailers be more open to hiring older workers (55+) for both store and corporate positions? What are the up and downsides of hiring older workers?