Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

Why Companies Should Hire Older Workers

An older woman sitting at a desk in an office.

​Even though age discrimination is illegal, a recent SHRM survey found that 30 percent of U.S. workers felt they were treated unfairly at some point due to their age, and 26 percent of U.S. workers ages 50 and older said they have been the target of age-related remarks in the workplace in the past six months. Additionally, 11 percent of HR professionals agreed that older employees are not always treated as fairly as their younger counterparts.

Age discrimination also has significant repercussions for employers: This month, pharmaceutical company Lilly USA agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle a nationwide age discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

By 2028, over a quarter of the U.S. workforce is going to be age 55 or older. While Boston Consulting Group found that companies with above-average diversity in age, gender, career path, nationality, education level and industry background on their management teams report innovation revenue 19 percentage points higher than businesses with below-average diversity, AARP found that less than 4 percent of companies have committed to programs that support a multi-generational workforce or integrate older workers.

Some companies aren't tolerating this lack of diversity and are instead choosing to hire older workers. Here's why, as well as how to hire these employees for your company too.

Why Hire Older Employees?

While some older workers are gearing up for retirement, others have no plans to end their career soon and can offer an extraordinary amount of expertise, according to Gary A. Officer, president and CEO of the Center for Workforce Inclusion.

Some companies may be afraid that older workers won't be able to keep up with changing technology or think that technology can replace them. However, Officer said this is not the case.

"With the rapid advances in artificial intelligence, companies will need established and skilled workers more than ever for the skills that cannot be replaced by AI, such as relationship building, negotiating and leadership," he said. "While technology can rapidly accelerate what we can accomplish, it cannot replace a human with years of established soft skills and communication skills."

In addition, older employees are loyal to their companies, Officer said.

"[A] common misconception about older workers is that they won't stay on the job long, as they are eyeing retirement," he said. "Studies have shown that older workers are incredibly loyal, and for a variety of reasons, including the economy or a need to stay busy, they are ready to commit to a job on a long-term basis."

Kraig Kleeman, founder and CEO of The New Workforce, is based outside of Chicago and manages 225 employees. In his experience, older employees are "the Jedi Masters of the workforce," he said jokingly. "Seriously, though, their experience is like a superpower. They bring a ton of know-how, patience and a knack for storytelling that keeps things interesting."

Kleeman added that older employees are especially helpful when it comes to gaining a larger perspective and communicating in person with other stakeholders.

"If other companies want a crew that knows how to navigate rough waters, they should consider older workers," he said. "They've got the battle scars and understand what works and what doesn't. Plus, they can teach the younger generation a thing or two about the ancient art of face-to-face communication, without emojis."

At HR For the Culture, a New Jersey-based company with 10 employees, founder and CEO Joy Pittman hires older workers because she's found they have excellent problem-solving skills, a strong work ethic and a deep understanding of customer service.

"Moreover, their diverse backgrounds infuse fresh perspectives into our people-centered approach to HR," she said. "Their mentorship and knowledge-sharing have proven invaluable in nurturing talent and fostering innovation. Embracing age diversity isn't just about inclusion. It's a strategic choice that enhances our company's performance."

How to Find and Hire Older Workers

To recruit older workers, companies must think about their policies and benefits and how they could apply to this age group.

"Older workers enjoy and are attracted to flexibility, such as remote working opportunities, different shift hours or even seasonal work," Officer said. "Employers should expect to make reasonable accommodations to make them comfortable, such as increased seating, or a softer floor at a factory for jobs that require a lot of standing or movement, or magnifiers or larger-print materials."

Kerry Wekelo, director of HR/operations at Actualize Consulting in Virginia, seeks older workers for her 100-person company by filtering for "years of experience" on job sites.

"In one of our successful practice areas for over 20 years, the average age of the group is 53," Wekelo said. "This practice area requires knowledge and understanding of the market and industry, and age is a factor in that base of comprehension because of their years of experience in that industry."

Pittman recommended looking for specific skills when trying to attract older workers.

"Focus on skills-based hiring rather than age, which can attract a diverse range of applicants with varying experience levels," she said. "[You can also] collaborate with industry associations and professional networks to identify and engage with experienced talent."

Taking the time to find and hire older workers could not only strengthen diversity at your company—it could also lead to a stronger bottom line and more success overall.

"Embracing age diversity is a strategic imperative in today's rapidly evolving business landscape," Pittman said. "The innovation, unique perspectives and wealth of experience that older workers bring to the table can drive a company's success and enhance its overall performance. By fostering an age-inclusive culture, organizations can ensure they remain agile, competitive and adaptive to the ever-changing demands of the modern workforce."

Kylie Ora Lobell is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.