Mature age workers: Added extras at no extra cost!

by 15 May 2012

We’re all happy to trot off to our local car dealer and buy a car with thousands of dollars’ worth of extras – at no extra cost, or buy a product with added features we don’t really need, just because “there’s no extra cost!”

So why is it that when it comes to employing skilled and experienced staff with added skills, knowledge and experience at no extra cost – many employers baulk? The standard euphemisms run along the lines of:


  • “you’re over-qualified”,
  • “you’re too experienced” or
  • “you wouldn’t be sufficiently challenged in this role”


But think about it – why wouldn’t a business owner or manager hire someone with additional skills, knowledge and experience if they have applied for a role and are happy with the package on offer? If you could drive a Mercedes for the price of a Falcon – why wouldn’t you?

All that most mature age employees are looking for is a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. And they are over the career climbing aggression and the 80 hour weeks and the unrelenting responsibility of managing large numbers of staff. They don’t need to prove themselves anymore – they just want to contribute to the workplace, the best way they know how – bringing their knowledge and experience into play to ensure the best outcomes for the business and their colleagues.

Up until the latter half of the 20th century, we actually revered and respected our elders in society as the wise ones, whose knowledge and wisdom was learned over the many years, and was to be listened to. It was the “village” or “family” elders that we deferred to for advice and guidance, and it was humbly and gladly given - most often to the great benefit to the recipient.

But suddenly maturity, age and “old” wisdom was entirely unfashionable, due largely to the exponential rise of technology and the modern media. In technology it was all about the young tech entrepreneurs inventing new applications and new tech toys – from which they made quick millions – so if you were over 30 years of age – you were past it! Even if you had been in IT from the early days and laid the groundwork for these ‘young high flyers’ to forge the brave new high tech world, you were suddenly “passé”.

And modern media decided that all the popular talent had to be less than 40 years old to keep news and entertainment new and fresh and sexy!. Many a popular TV and radio presenter found themselves quickly on the scrap heap due merely to a few wrinkles creeping into the smile lines or the odd tinge of grey appearing in the immaculately coiffed hair. And roles dried up on stage, TV and screen for many (particularly female) performers. It was as if society had decided that old simply did not exist in the public eye.

The same trend followed in the workplace. Many middle aged, middle management executives and even general workers discovered they had hit their ‘use by’ date and found themselves on the corporate scrap heap – shown the door in “redundancies” that seemed to be suddenly refilled with younger and younger replacements.

Then came the flush of younger managers – in the 25 to 35 year age range – being sadly reticent to hire staff who were older than them, because they might actually have more knowledge and experience than them. Many a qualified worker encountered a manager that was victim of the “Peter Principle” (promoted to their level of incompetence) which then created a huge career block for competent workers, as ‘Peter’ wouldn’t employ workers who might show them up as less skilled than their subordinates.

This fear of more qualified, more experienced and more knowledgeable subordinates either showing the manager up as incompetent, or worse still (they imagined) taking their job, has created a huge level of covert age discrimination from many a boss. Now, not all bosses and companies are the same, but sadly there is a large majority suffering from the ‘younger is better’ mind set.

Consider the real benefits of employing employees over 40 years of age:


  • Bring over 20 years' knowledge, skills and experience to the team
  • More stable and committed to the company
  • Better work ethic and more satisfied in their work
  • Generally more productive and more profitable
  • Lower rates of absenteeism and sick leave
  • Less accidents and injuries in the workplace
  • With our aging population, they tend to more closely reflect your customers’ age profile


Most are also looking for a better work-life balance having done the hard yards, long hours and corporate ladder climbing in past years. They just want to continue to contribute but be able to knock off and go home without taking the stress of management with them.

Truly smart business owners and managers understand that you should hire people who are better than they are at doing the job, help them grow and develop further to ensure their business grows and develops. And the skill and experience of mature age workers provides those ‘added extras at no extra cost!”

About the author

Ron Browne is director of PLUS40. For further information phone 1300 PLUS40 (1300 758 740) or email



  • by Shane Higgins 16/05/2012 10:41:12 AM

    Ron, we totally agree. We have over 17,500 older jobseekers registered looking for work on our job board and the wealth of experience among them is amazing. Smart employers are already understanding the benefits of older workers and don't have to be encouraged to employ them. As the only national job board specifically with age-friendly employers advertising jobs, we know that the numbers of smart employers is growing daily, however it is still a fact that ageism is alive and well in businesses today. They potentially lose fantastic, experienced and loyal employees if they don't consider and attract older workers.

  • by Mary M K 9/11/2012 4:15:14 PM

    You said it!
    Mature-age employees generally tend to be less desperate because they have been there and done that. They bring with them not only professional experience fine-tuned over the years but also valuable life experiences,which it would be a mistake to discount in any circumstance, including the workplace. They are relatively free from the distractions of competitiveness, one-upmanship, etc. which they know are pointless in the long run and are hence able to be more responsible, accountable, honest and dignified in their behviour, demeanour and attitude. These have immeasurable value in inter-personal relations, helping defuse tensions rather than exacerbate them, at the workplace.