What would you think about a 75-year-old working in a factory or even an 80-year-old? You might believe that this is some form of elder abuse in a Third World country. It’s something that is happening more and more right in the USA.
I heard a discussion about over 55’s working at Brooks Brothers factories in America. In case you don’t know, Brooks Brothers is a clothing store of good quality and rather than relying on overseas seamstresses and tailoring in places such as Asia; they are using American workers who are seniors. There are several reasons for this:
They Have Better Skills in Certain Fields : The reality is that in countries such as the USA, Canada or Australia, sewing and stitching have become a lost art in the younger generation. Many of the workers that Brooks Brothers uses are from Eastern Europe and have grown up with and retained the skills of making clothing.
Seniors Bring Stability: In the vast majority of cases, seniors are not a volatile group. They have achieved a degree of success in life and are in more stable relationships, or perhaps not in search of a relationship. Someone who is 30 and unattached is more likely to have late nights, clubbing, drinking too much and doing drugs. It’s not to say that every millennial is into drugs, or that some seniors don’t do drugs, but such behaviours tend to decrease with age. There is some truth in the adage, “Older but wiser.”
Seniors are Loyal: Those of us that grew up in the 1950’s and 60’s were imbued with a certain sense of loyalty. Whether you were trained in a particular profession or were employed by a company, there was a likelihood that you would spend years in your chosen position. When I had my own business, it amazed me how often I would lose staff, not because of lack of pay or that they were unhappy. Often it would be because they just wanted a change. The workplace is very fluid today with the younger crowd. Of course, all they have known in their life is the internet with its rapid changes.
A Strong Work Ethic: Baby boomers grew up with a strong work ethic. We worked long hours––sometimes sacrificing family time––in order to nurture businesses and achieve professional credibility. In the process, we were financially rewarded. Today, Gen x and Gen y want to have more free time with family, and that is laudable. However, from the perspective of a company, these individuals don’t wish to put the hours in, want more time off and expect to be handsomely paid. Most seniors grew up with the values of working hard, sometimes to their detriment. An employer will know seniors are more likely work harder with fewer expectations.
It May Be Less Costly: As a consequence of seniors in the workplace more likely to stay put, there is a financial benefit to hiring an older person. The men and women working in the Brooks Brothers factories have been there for many years. The company doesn’t need to worry about the costs of training or re-training these individual which would be necessary for younger workers who did not possess such skills.
While many seniors value the income that they can receive at this stage of life, they are also appreciative of having the opportunity to be able to work when many people regard them as unemployable. It gives them the feeling of importance and that they are making a difference.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor, and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.