There’s a reason Walmart hires senior citizens as greeters at its stores: Seniors who are seeking employment are generally “people persons” who like socializing and engaging with others. That’s one of the findings of a survey by Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that asked hiring managers about hiring senior citizens.
If you’re looking to enhance your company’s customer service, hiring seniors could be a great idea. Here are a few of the reasons managers in the SHRM survey say seniors are valuable employees:
- Seniors tend to be more patient than younger people when dealing with customers.
- Because seniors have a lot of life experience, they’re often good at coming up with solutions to problems.
- Hiring seniors who have past experience in your industry enables you to tap into their decades of knowledge.
- Seniors often enjoy mentoring or passing their expertise on to younger employees.
- If your business relies on referrals or word-of-mouth to gain new customers, you’ll be able to tap into seniors’ vast networks of contacts from years in the work force.
- Seniors typically aren’t dealing with children at home, and they may be widowed or widowers, so they have more free time to dedicate to their jobs.
- Most seniors have a strong work ethic and are highly reliable.
How can you make the most of seniors at your business?
- Take advantage of their natural skills and past experience. A senior may not do as well in a fast-paced environment. You can still tap into the senior employee’s abilities by having younger workers “triage” customer service calls and pass them on to the senior employee to handle in detail. This way, customers feel they are being responded to quickly, but also feel cared for by the detail-oriented senior employees.
- Train them on technology to get them up to speed. Although they didn’t grow up with technology, seniors who are in the work force are typically eager to learn. Most seniors use the Internet, email and social media in their personal lives, so you won’t be starting totally from scratch.
- Treat them with respect. Give seniors an opportunity to share their insights and experiences with younger employees on your team. Their approach to solving customer problems will likely shed new light on common issues your customer service staff faces.
There are plenty of senior job boards, such as JobsOver50 or Senior Job Bank, where you can list openings to attract this age group; you can also contact local organizations for seniors in your community.