Recruiting senior citizens: benefits and challenges


Recruiting seniors is becoming a strategic consideration for companies in the context of an ageing workforce and a global shortage of candidates. This demographic is often overlooked, but offers immense potential. Let’s explore the benefits and challenges of hiring senior workers.

But let’s start with the basics:

What does it mean to be a senior citizen in the world of work?

At what age are people considered senior in the workplace? If we look at the issue from the point of view of professional training and career management, it’s from the age of 45 to 50 that we talk about senior citizens. From a legal point of view, help is available in France for employees aged 45 and over.

You shouldn’t confuse a senior position (someone who has a lot of experience in a specific position) with a senior person (someone who may have years of experience in one or more positions, but not much in the one they are hired for).

For example, a 35-year-old who has been in the same job for 15 years could be called a “senior”, while a 50-year-old who changed careers two years ago could be called a “junior”.

But if we’re only talking about age in the workplace, we can say that you’re a senior citizen from the age of 45-50.

Recruiting seniors: the benefits

Experience and expertise

The most significant contribution of senior workers is undoubtedly their experience and expertise. Accumulées au fil des années, que ce soit dans une seule entreprise ou plusieurs, ces qualités se manifestent de diverses manières :

Problem solving: Senior citizens have often been confronted with a variety of professional situations, enabling them to develop sharp problem-solving skills. They simply have the experience of years of work having to solve problems in various situations and having to evolve in the face of technical, societal, legal or technological revolutions in their sectors. And let’s make no mistake, we’re not inventing new solutions to problems that no-one has thought of before with each iteration. Seniors have certainly already faced problems relatively similar to those in your company, and will be able to benefit from the way it was solved then.

Market understanding:With years of experience, seniors often have a better understanding of market dynamics, which can be invaluable for business strategies. For example, a senior manager who has worked in the retail sector for decades can provide unique insights into changing consumer behaviour. They have seen the evolution of methods, techniques and demand, and will be able to make proposals. “It’s in the old pot that the best soup is made”, as the saying goes, and sales, management, customer relations, marketing and work organisation can’t all be reinvented every morning.

Reliability and commitment

Senior workers are often perceived as being more reliable and committed:

Company loyalty : A study prepared for AARP by Aon Hewitt reveals that workers aged 50 and over show a strong tendency to remain loyal to their company, with increased engagement compared to their younger counterparts. This reduces the recruitment and training costs associated with high staff turnover. As we all know, finding a job at the age of 55 becomes very complicated, and a senior employee will be much less inclined to try their luck elsewhere if they are satisfied with their current job than a young recruit. All the more so as, generationally speaking, it was rather the norm to stay “all your life” within the same company some time ago. This is no longer the case in the younger segments of the population.

Diversity of perspectives

The diversity of ages within a team can stimulate innovation and creativity, “from the clash of ideas springs the light” :

Unique perspectives: Seniors can offer a different perspective based on their long and varied life experience. This can lead to innovative solutions and improved decision-making. It’s easy to imagine the example of a senior member of a product development team. His understanding of past trends and experience can guide the team towards more sustainable and proven solutions. He has already seen market changes and knows how to spot the signs. What’s more, it allows several generations to discuss the issues of the day together, with unique perspectives and concrete examples of the application of certain methods.

International perspectives on the recruitment of seniors

Although our focus is on France, it is always instructive to look at how other countries approach the recruitment of older people. As you know as a recruiter or HR manager, every country has a lot to learn from the ideas and practices of its neighbours.

In Germany, for example, continuing education programmes are widely used to keep the skills of older workers up to date. In the United States, many companies have introduced flexible retirement policies to retain senior talent. These approaches offer interesting avenues for enriching recruitment strategies for senior citizens in France.

Recruiting seniors: the challenges

Adapting to modern technologies

Adapting to modern technology is a key challenge for seniors. To remain competitive, it is essential that they keep abreast of the latest trends and skills in the world of work. Vocational training offers the opportunity to specialise in fast-growing sectors such as IT and digital technology.

For example, a senior project manager could take a course on digital tools to keep up to date. This ongoing training is beneficial not only for employees but also for employers, as it ensures that staff are up to date with the latest techniques and technologies.

There are now a number of training courses aimed specifically at senior citizens to bring them up to date with certain methods or technologies. As we said earlier, we must not underestimate the will and adaptability of senior citizens.

Health issues

Seniors can face health challenges that require adaptations to the work environment. For example, a senior employee in a physical job could benefit from adjusted working hours or less demanding tasks. It is important for employers to recognise these needs and provide flexible solutions that maintain the employability of older employees while taking care of their well-being.

Age prejudice

Tackling age stereotypes is crucial to creating an inclusive working environment. This involves ongoing awareness-raising and the adoption of fair human resources policies. By recognising the value of older employees and promoting a culture of respect and inclusion, companies can overcome prejudice and benefit from the wealth of experience and skills of older workers.

The importance of ongoing training

Vocational training for seniors is a systematic process that starts with identifying the areas of training needed, which can range from short courses to full degree programmes. It can help overcome challenges such as lack of time, difficulty adapting to new learning methods and health problems by offering flexible and accessible options.

Integrating seniors into emerging technologies

The adaptability of older people can be put to good use in areas such as artificial intelligence and blockchain. If we’re talking about a 50-year-old, that means he or she was born in 1973. This means we’re talking about someone who was able to adapt to the resurgence of interest in fax machines in the 80s, followed by Minitel, personal computers, the arrival of the Internet and the smartphone. Contrary to popular belief, older people (in the sense of “in the world of work”) are capable of adapting, provided we take the time to show them how these new technologies work.

Your younger colleagues in the various news sectors might even be very surprised to see how quickly someone who learnt to code on a Commodore when he was six can adapt to the new low or no-code methods and other frameworks.

Advice on recruiting senior citizens

Flexibility and adaptability

Offering flexible working options can be a major asset in attracting senior citizens:

Flexible working hours and teleworking: Offer flexible working hours or the possibility of teleworking. For example, a senior citizen might prefer to start his working day earlier and finish it earlier in order to take care of personal responsibilities and avoid long transit times.

Part-time positions or consultancy contracts : Create part-time roles or consultancy opportunities, which may be more attractive to seniors wishing to reduce their workload while remaining professionally active. We’ve said it a lot in this article: senior citizens have an enormous amount to contribute to companies in terms of ideas, feedback, knowledge of the market and its players.

Inclusive Corporate Culture

Promoting a corporate culture that values age diversity:

Diversity awareness workshops: Organise awareness sessions for all employees to promote understanding and respect for different generations at work. If you’re recruiting senior staff, you don’t want them to feel denigrated or left out by their younger colleagues. Emphasise mutual learning.

Mentoring interages: Encourage mentoring programmes where senior employees can share their experience with younger colleagues, and vice versa. This promotes knowledge transfer and better mutual understanding.

Using ATS to promote inclusivity:Jobaffinity can be used to analyse recruitment trends and ensure fair representation of all age groups in the recruitment process.

Legal aspects

We should not forget France’s laws on age discrimination and tax incentives for companies hiring older employees. For example, the French Employment Code prohibits all forms of discrimination in recruitment, including on the grounds of age. In addition, tax benefits may be available to companies that choose to hire senior employees.

Recruiting older employees represents a strategic opportunity for companies looking to diversify and enrich their workforce. By embracing the challenges, such as adapting to modern technology and tackling age bias, and exploiting the benefits, such as experience and reliability, companies can make the most of this valuable talent pool.

Initiatives such as ongoing training, flexible working hours and an inclusive corporate culture are essential to effectively integrate older employees. In addition, the use of a candidate tracking system such as Jobaffinity can considerably improve the recruitment process for senior employees, ensuring a personalised and fair approach. Ultimately, integrating seniors into the workforce is not just about filling a position; it’s a process that enriches the company as a whole, bringing a depth of experience, a diversity of perspectives and a renewed commitment to long-term success.

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