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More-seasoned employees bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, and they are less likely to look for another job after a couple of years.

Paul Sturgeon

February 16, 2024

2 Min Read
older employee with tablet
Gorodenkoff/iStock via Getty Images

I am going to discuss a sensitive topic, which some are afraid to address openly, but I feel strongly about it. William Shakespeare once said: "Virtue is bold, and goodness never fearful." So, let’s get right to it.

Even with a softening in hiring, manufacturing remains a space where skilled, experienced workers are getting harder and harder to find. I am going to lay out a case to employers for why not only they should not discriminate against the older candidate, but should shift their paradigms and embrace that segment of the workforce.

Subtle forms of age discrimination

The older worker has been discriminated against for a long time. This is widely accepted, as evidenced by the fact that there are laws against age discrimination. As with other forms of discrimination, over the years it has become more subtle. So, I might hear things like, "It’s an impressive resume, but we’d really like to find someone with more energy" or "They certainly have the experience we are looking for, but they’re overqualified for this position."

A frayed social contract

Why do companies think this way? There was a time when companies reasonably expected their top employees to stay there until they retired. That was the unwritten social contract between the company and the employee — loyalty that went both ways. Hence, if you subtracted someone’s age from 65, that was how many years of service you were going to get out of them, give or take a few. Wow, has that changed!

Company-employee loyalty is long gone, with increasingly rare exceptions, overcome by the realities of a global economy, mergers and acquisitions, a demand for short-term business results, and a host of other factors. What you have now is a situation where the average Gen Z employee is changing jobs every two to three years.

The virtues of age

Bottom line: If you want to hire an employee who is very likely to be with your company for 10 years, do not overlook someone who is 55 to 60, or even older. They will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge, show up on time every day, give you a full days’ work, and when the time does come to retire, they will tell you well in advance and gladly train their replacement.

About the Author(s)

Paul Sturgeon

Paul Sturgeon is CEO of KLA Industries, a national search firm specializing in plastics, packaging, and polymer technology. If you have a topic you would like to see discussed, a company that is growing, or other ideas for this blog, e-mail Sturgeon at [email protected].

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