Companies Need To Hire Older Workers

June 19, 2008
Older workers have high level of job satisfaction.

In a tight economy, a new survey reveals that hiring older workers has a number of benefits since older workers bring a higher level of satisfaction, pride, and willingness to go the "extra mile" to their jobs than younger generations, while simultaneously expressing the strongest satisfaction with the fairness of their compensation.

The findings are from a major study,produced by Sirota Survey Intelligence, of cross-generational attitudes of more than 300,000 workers in over 50 organizations that the employee attitude research firm surveyed during 2007 and 2006. That study encompassed four generational groups:

  • Traditionalists -- ages 63 and older
  • Baby Boomers -- ages 43-62
  • Generation X -- ages 28-42
  • Generation Y -- ages 27 and younger

"Among all employees, 'Traditionalist' or mature workers feel their skills are being best utilized, and are best able to understand how their job connects to the overall goals of the company. They are the most satisfied with their jobs, and are among the most likely to advocate for the company," said Douglas Klein, President of Sirota Survey Intelligence.

"Also, this pattern does not vary by the length of time the employee has been with a company -- putting to rest the theory older workers are simply longer-tenured and therefore making more money, resulting in their being more satisfied and motivated," said Klein.

According to the results of Sirota's research (percentage expressing a favorable rating):

  • Traditionalists have the highest overall satisfaction with their employers
    • Traditionalists (85% favorable)
    • Generation Y (79%)
    • Generation X (77%)
    • Baby Boomers (74%)
  • Traditionalists are tied with Baby Boomers as the most willing to 'go the extra mile' for their employers
    • Traditionalists and Baby Boomers (each 81% favorable)
    • Generation X (77%)
    • Generation Y (72%)
  • Traditionalists have the most pride in working for their employers
    • Traditionalists (89%)
    • Generation Y (85%)
    • Generation X (81%)
    • Baby Boomers (79%).
  • Traditionalists feel strongest that they are fairly compensated for their work
    • Traditionalists (61%)
    • Generation Y (55%)
    • Generation X and Baby Boomers (both tied at 53%)
  • Traditionalists have the highest satisfaction with the jobs they perform
    • Traditionalists (76%)
    • Generation Y (74%)
    • Baby Boomers (71%)
    • Generation X (70%).
  • Traditionalists feel strongest that their jobs make good use of their skills and abilities
    • Traditionalists (84%)
    • Baby Boomers (80%)
    • Generation X (78%)
    • Generation Y (76%)

"Of particular interest is the nine-point difference between Traditionalists and Generation Y workers -- who are the focus of a lot of hiring -- in 'willingness to go the extra mile.' It is not because they are inherently lazy; rather, it takes them years to re-adjust their expectations to match their real-time experiences on the job. Our data suggests that it will take many years for Gen Y to match the inherent willingness to work hard found in the other age groups. Whatever the reasons, best-performing companies are able to maintain the natural level of enthusiasm brought to the job by employees at all ages -- rather than contribute to its decline," said Klein.

Kline adds that since people are "living healthy, active lifestyles, and so many Traditionalists uncertain whether they will have the financial resources to enable them to retire, they may want to stay in the workforce longer. Some Traditionalists who had been managers earlier in their careers may want to pursue individual contributor roles now, as they perceive these to have less stress and more flexibility."

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