by Rhonda Todrick –
Baby Boomers, defined as those born between 1946 and 1965, are now 50 to 69 years old. The Boomer generation comprises 27% of the population and those over 65 make up 16% of the population. The number of new retirees in Canada has jumped from 170,000 annually five years ago to nearly 250,000.
We are seeing a huge spike in Canadian workers over 65 in the past decade – a 140% increase, and women over 65 have doubled their participation in the workforce.
Who will make up the workforce in the coming decades? Is 65 still a valid age to retire? I decided to ask three seniors employed on the Peninsula why they are still working, past retirement. We also spoke to their managers to determine why including this demographic in their workforce adds a special component.
How old are you and how long have you worked for your employer?
Mark Harrison, The Beach House Restaurant: “I’m 66 and I’ve worked for Kate for 20 years.”
Kenny Podmore, Concierge Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa: “I’m 73, in my 10th year with the hotel and have been with them since they opened.”
Sandy White, Tanner’s Books (now moved away): “I’m 69 and it is my second time working for Tanner’s, for a total of seven years employment with them.”
Why have you chosen to work beyond retirement age, and how long do you hope to work?
Mark: “I have never been happier! I believe I can lead by example for the younger employees: ‘money isn’t everything and you have to love your job.’ My goal would be to work until I’m 70, health permitting.”
Kenny: “I feel that I still have a lot to offer, and this position gives me the opportunity to find job satisfaction working with people. I hope to work ‘Forever!’ I tried retirement but it only lasted two weeks.”
Sandy: “I have worked in the book industry since I was 17 years old. I like working with people, especially kids, and I feel that I still have a great deal to contribute and hope to work as long as I’m still upright!”
Share your philosophy about work.
Mark: “For me it is fairly simple – be on time, show initiative and integrity and don’t underestimate the gifts or skills that you can share with younger employees.”
Kenny: “My philosophy is to lead by example – have good time management skills, enjoy a good interaction with co-workers of all ages and exhibit loyalty, honesty and integrity. It is lovely to wake in the morning and want to go to work!”
Sandy: “Customer service is a huge part of my philosophy because repeat customers matter.”
What do you see as negatives in the workplace now, and why should employers consider hiring seniors?
Mark: “I believe complacency and a sense of entitlement are the worst problems facing employers.”
Kenny: “It must be frustrating and costly to be a business owner who gets young employees trained and then they quit. I believe employers can rely on seniors because of their work ethics and many are working because they want to – not because they have to. Attitude is everything.”
Sandy: “I believe Customer Service is lacking in most stores but seniors have grown up in the era of customer service.”
What do you consider to be the benefits to having seniors make up part of your workforce?
“Seniors have proven to be reliable, kind, compassionate, and they broaden our team to then stabilize interpersonal dynamics,” says Kate Phoenix, owner and manager of The Beach House Restaurant. “People all over tell me how much they like the English fellow in our café. Mark is a draw for us and we are proud and honoured to have him on our team.”
“I believe people of varied demographics, cultures, and walks of life bring tremendous value to our team,” shares The Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa General Manager Natalie King. “Seniors specifically bring life experience, an ability to relate to people of all ages, and a maturity to any work force.
“Our team is richer and more capable because we have senior members. Seniors have outstanding interpersonal skills – they understand the value of good communication.”
Notes Cliff McNeil-Smith, owner of Tanner’s Books: “Having worked in the book industry for 25 years, I recognize the importance of a team environment with staff of all ages.
“Seniors bring the experience and maturity to the workforce that creates interesting dynamics with the younger employees. They may have different perspectives on life but they can learn from those differences.”
For seniors who need to supplement their income, or simply feel that they just aren’t ready to retire yet, it seems that staying in the workforce is often a viable option, one that is welcomed by local employers for a variety of reasons. “I certainly would recommend having seniors as part of any company’s workforce,” says Natalie. “Diversity is strength, and seniors offer mentorship potential, life experience and an ability to handle challenging situations. Our customer base crosses all demographics – our team should too.”