WAHBoom! Job Fairs, Niche Boards Vie for Older Workers’ Attention

Older workers — many self-employed and working part time — are not anxious to leave the labor market.

That’s why think-tanks like The Urban Institute recommend that employers create similar work situations to capitalize on the increasing amount of older workers who, the Institute notes, tend to enjoy work more and worry about it less.

The AARP agrees that older workers staying in the labor force longer is good news for employers. In a new report, The Business Case for Workers Age 50+, it says older workers are more motivated to exceed expectations on the job than their younger counterparts.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers 55+ is currently at 17%, and by 2020, will be nearly 24%. Among workers 75 or older, close to 6.5% (over 1 million) were working last year, up from 4.7% in the previous decade. Among American workers 80 or older, the rate increased to 3.4% from 2.7% the previous decade.

To help companies find these older workers, the AARP is helping to organize the “Employ the Older Workers Job Fair Series,” a national effort in more than 40 cities to connect older workers and 50+-friendly employers.

The job fair series will run from August 22 to October 19. It is being held in conjunction with the Labor Department’s National Employ Older Workers Week (September 23 to 29).

Mature workers have a lower rate of attrition and a strong work ethic, according to Evelyn Issa, staffing manager over National Hiring Partnerships for Home Depot.

“Many of our older workers are enjoying retirement but want a part-time job where they can interact with people and use the skills they’ve developed. To attract and retain them, Home Depot offers part-time, flexible schedules with health benefits and a 401(k) plan. We believe this gives us a significant competitive advantage,” says Issa.

Even bookstore-giant Borders is getting in on the act, teaming up with RetirementJobs.com to present workshops to help Massachusetts residents over 50 find work.

The pilot program started earlier this month at Borders stores across Massachusetts. (Upcoming locations include the Braintree store on August 23 and the Hyannis store on August 30.)

The 90-minute, interactive sessions led by career coaching experts will cover topics such as “What Job Are You Looking For?,” “What Jobs Are Available?,” “Obstacles — Can’t Land a Job?,” “Who’s Hiring for Which Jobs?,” and “Sources for Jobs and Leads.”

Andrea Smith, senior manager of talent acquisition, says Borders is “an attractive option for older workers. We offer the flexibility, environment, benefits, and programs that many mature employees find appealing.”

However, to help companies smooth the path for workers of all ages, Manpower offers companies tips on recruiting and retaining older workers.

For example, consider a Gen Y employee who prefers “IMing” (instant messaging) versus a worker in his 60s or 70s who not only prefers face-to-face contact but may also choose the ultimate “anti-IM” communication strategy: the telephone!

Manpower says companies shouldn’t forget about these workplace attitudes and beliefs and might consider expanded diversity training to integrate workers of all ages.

WAHBoom: Telecommuting Options Expanded

It sounds like something straight out of a comic-book series, but WAHBoom.com is a new niche board targeted at helping boomers find legitimate telecommuting jobs and professional resources.

“Through our research and work with the Department of State and Armed Forces, we realized that a lot of boomers are interested in home-based work, either their own businesses or telework,” says Michael Haaren, co-founder and president of Staffcentrix.

Although research indicated older workers are interested in leveraging their experience, he says there was a tremendous unmet need for those who want to work from home.

“We launched the site to give the boomers a place to go. It’s a place that addresses serious issues, but humor is part of the ambience. A lot of boomers grew up with comic books and a bright-eyed attitude, and we wanted to incorporate humor with seriousness mixed in.”

In fact, the WAHBoom title incorporates the “Boom” in boomer and the acronym for “work at home,” or WAH.

“We like to come up with original concepts,” says Haaren, also the co-author of The 2-Second Commute.

“We want to continue to grow the site and add content and guest bloggers. We’re not duplicating Eons. Our focus is home-based jobs, adding fresh job leads every day or almost every day. It’s free for companies to post jobs, as long as they are legitimate,” says Haaren.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.