After completing her studies 11 years ago, Anne-Marije Buckens started a job agency for employees aged 50 or over. According to her, the over-50s are in demand from employers. "Every day we receive job vacancies from companies specifically looking for elder employees with lots of experience. Entrepreneurs do see the advantages."
What is the real situation for older jobseekers?
The media paint conflicting pictures. On the one hand, the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV) claims there have never been so many over-50s in paid employment. On the other hand, 55,000 elderly jobseekers are having a hard time finding work. Even though there is a national staff shortage.
"It has to do with image", says Buckens. "Many employees see it as a disadvantage if someone has spent many years working for the same company. But if you want to fight the staff shortages, you will have to let go of such preconceived notions. Don't jump to conclusions based on a CV alone. Talk to people and listen to their stories. That is the only way to find out if the impression you have is correct."
Are over-50s more expensive to hire?
Another preconceived idea about older employees is that they are much more expensive to hire than younger ones. "That is no longer true", she states. "In the past, wages were often dictated by a CAO, a working conditions agreement. Nowadays, knowledge and experience are the determining factors. That leaves a lot of room for negotiation."
Buckens has noticed that wages are not the primary concern for many over-50s. "Mostly, they want to find enjoyable and suitable work. Especially the over-50s who have saved enough money in their previous careers don't mind getting paid the same as a younger employee. Of course, this doesn't go for everyone, but you cannot decide someone is going to be too expensive based on their age. Employers who have a hard time finding employees should realise that."
Look at the costs and benefits
Buckens admits that older employees do come with higher costs in general. For her own company, she hires over-50s almost exclusively. "If one of them becomes ill, the costs are really high. But that doesn't persuade me to hire younger people. It's about weighing the costs against the benefits. An employee who is over 50 has a wealth of know-how and usually has no desire to job-hop. Life experience is also an advantage. For example, older employees make great sales persons, because they relate to customers more easily. That ability to bond makes for higher sales numbers. Employers who benefit from that are more willing to pay the higher wage costs."
Does the work you offer not require a lot of tech knowledge or physically demanding work? Then consider hiring a retired person. 20% of the Dutch population is now 65+ and most them are retired. Some of these people have a lot of time on their hands and like to stay among people. Big advantage: a retired person brings a lot of work and life experience.
Besides, a retired worker can even be cheaper than a younger worker. This is because pensioners do not pay social security contributions. Those entitled to AOW pension benefits no longer need to be insured against unemployment and disability.
Entrepreneurs facing staff shortages would do well to broaden their horizons. She sees enough examples to confirm this in her own business. "Some time ago, a hip and happening IT company hired an elderly lady as office manager through us. That was a conscious decision, and it worked out really well. Another experience: we placed a 61-year-old man in an organisation that would not have invited him based solely on his CV. In the interview, it soon turned out the man had a drive and vision that was highly compatible with the company's strategy. It proved a perfect match."
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