Is a Graying Workforce a Better Workforce?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- With more than one-third of the workforce in the U.S. expected to be more than 50 years of age by 2022, there’s no doubt payrolls are graying -- but that may not be a bad thing.

"Older workers undoubtedly bring a number of advantages to the workplace that should make recruiters think twice about frequently hiring younger," said Dan Finnigan, CEO of applicant tracking software developer Jobvite.

New research from the AARP shows 35.4% of the workforce is expected to be more than 50 years old by 2022. During just this past decade alone, the number of workers ages 50 to 59 grew by 28%, and workers ages 60 to 69 grew a whopping 72%, the study found.

Finnigan, however, said older workers with longer resumes and more work experience provide less risk compared to candidates in their 40s and 50s. He added older workers typically also are much more self-aware of themselves.

"People in their 20s are genuinely excited about figuring out who they are, and that instills a lot of passion in them," Finnigan said. "The problem, however, is that they can take your company along with them on that journey. People who are older have already gone through this time in their lives -- and they often times know themselves better."

The AARP study found similar positives to having workers more than 50 years old on payroll, including professionalism, work ethic, low turnover and high knowledge.

"Just as today’s 50-plus population is redefining aging and eroding negative stereotypes, today’s 50-plus workforce is adding value by exhibiting traits that are highly sought after in today’s economy," said AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins in her foreword to the study.

Despite those positives traits, it does not mean it is easy for every aging job candidate to find that willing employer. John Paul Engel, president of executive recruiting firm Knowledge Capital Consulting, said there are still a lot of high-quality people being shown the door when they reach their 50s. That, or they're not allowed to go through another door afterward.

"I’m currently working with an executive that managed 9,000 people yet is having a hard time finding his next gig," Engel said. "I spent several months helping a top sales executive find his next gig despite a stellar record of performance in his industry."

Engel said what employers do not realize is an older worker not only brings knowledge and experience, but also a career's worth of contacts that can open important doors. He added that despite the fact that many think older workers will require higher pay, many get hired at a discount to what they are worth but are still eager for the opportunity to prove themselves.

"Often older workers hunger for opportunity to make a contribution," he added. "They can be a turbo charge to your work force if used in the right way."

Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search, said he expects demand will increase even for those Baby Boomers over 65 who are looking for part-time work.

"Most Baby Boomers have a particular wisdom and knowledge of their field that only comes with age," said Polachi, who has both hired and placed many executives over the age of 50. "They will also be of use to mentor the next generation coming through. Many older employees are not quite ready to be done at 65."

Why? Many people require additional income to help them survive in retirement, and others simply don't want to be too idle. 

"After all, there is only so much golf you can play," Polachi said.

More from Personal Finance

How to Void a Check

How to Void a Check

Rent the Runway co-founder Chats with Cramer on Equal Pay and a Good Pair Jeans

Rent the Runway co-founder Chats with Cramer on Equal Pay and a Good Pair Jeans

Best Real Estate Markets for Homeowners in the U.S.

Best Real Estate Markets for Homeowners in the U.S.

How to Be a Winner Like Legendary Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch

How to Be a Winner Like Legendary Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch

Best U.S. Cities for New College Grads

Best U.S. Cities for New College Grads