Working Life Begins at 65
By George Anderson
If you want to get ahead in retailing today, maturity is a definite asset. Of course, the definition of mature has changed somewhat over the years. In the past, it meant that
workers were beyond high school age. Today, it is just as likely to suggest you’re receiving your Social Security check.
Don Kuepker, reports the Providence Journal, is among the more mature workers making their mark in retailing.
Mr. Kuepker is 79 years of age and he’s been working 14 to 24 hours a week at Home Depot for six years.
“I did my garden, my yard for a little while, played some golf,” he said. “But at the end of the summer, I could see the walls closing in on me. I found I have to be doing something.
I have to keep my mind and body active, because if you don’t, you lose it.”
Mr. Kuepker is not alone. According to projections from the AARP, 25 percent of the workforce in 2010 will be made up of individuals 50 years of age or older.
“It will be a very different work force,” said Emily Allen, AARP’s director of work force programs.”
According to Ms. Allen, companies are actively recruiting older workers and retired individuals because they understand the value of experience in business performance.
CVS is one of those companies. “It’s good business,” said Steven Wing, director of the drugstore chain’s government programs. “The population is aging, and we want our employee
demographics to look like the demographics of our customers.”
Anne Roman, a spokesperson for Borders, agrees with Mr. Wing.
“One thing that makes older workers particularly attractive is the life skills and knowledge they can bring to our stores,” she said. “We have found that where staff is most
reflective of the make up of a community that sales are better, and since half of all book sales are made by people who are 45 plus, it helps to have people like them serving
Companies have found that being flexible is key to attracting and retaining older workers.
While at 49, Paula SanSouci qualifies as a regular youngster, she takes part in the CVS snowbird program. Working as a pharmacist, Ms. SanCouci spends summers working near her
home in New England while, during the winter, she works in sunny Florida.
“I’m sure in the long run it helps retain people,” she said. “There is such a shortage of pharmacists, they’ll do anything to keep them in the work force.”
Moderator’s Comment: Most retail companies talk about the key role that older workers can play in the store environment. Is that just a politically correct
way of saying advancement up the corporate ladder is out of the question? Would retail businesses attract and retain more seniors if workers saw a way to get ahead and not simply
act as greeters or store clerks? – George Anderson – Moderator