Today’s Hann Stand: Mature Workers overlooked Talent Resource in Procurement Space

December 9, 2011

Hann’s Stand: My take on current issues in employment and staffing.


 As a follow up to last week’s Hann Stand, employers having a tough time finding talent for their “mid-level” procurement positions, here’s one sure-fire way to increase the size of the overall talent pool. Often overlooked but really steeped in experience, mature workers are fantastic resources in the procurement space.

 I am struck by how many articles I have read discussing “ageism”, and extolling the benefits to business of hiring mature workers. Why are all these articles being written? Precisely because mature workers, particularly those over 50, are finding it challenging to get hired. We speak from personal experience as a specialty Procurement/Supply Chain recruiting partner that routinely we observe certain reluctance among employers to seriously consider mature workers for vacant positions.  That’s a shame because as contract takes a larger role in the Procurement landscape, it’s pretty much a no brainer that mature workers can meet many of these staffing needs.

 The truth is, these workers offer a wealth of experience, knowledge and skill that younger workers simply can’t match, but they often get overlooked in favour of those younger (what are deemed higher potential) candidates. Companies are needlessly limiting their options, essentially ignoring a large and growing, talented labour pool, while bidding up the cost of hiring younger talent.

Contrary to popular misconception, mature workers offer a good level of flexibility and are  sometimes not necessarily as expensive as their younger counterparts. In fact, companies are missing a window of opportunity to sometimes less expensively acquire really valuable knowledge and skills for project based procurement work.

As the baby boom generation ages, the average age of the workforce increases, and the size of the over-50 talent pool grows relative to younger workers. Supply and demand being what it is, mature workers are becoming more of a reality for talent acquisition teams and third party recruiters so how to use them effectively just makes good common sense especially when one considers the fantastic skills they bring to the table.

Furthermore, mature workers are no more expensive with respect to benefits – often they are actually cheaper. A willingness to prefer contract work means employers have the flexibility to not pay the benefit costs they would have to otherwise for their younger counterparts. Considerations for time off for childcare and maternity also become non-issues and that’s very attractive for those progressive employers who are open to embrace hiring mature workers for their procurement contract and permanent positions. 

Additionally, as a bonus to employers, training costs are typically much lower too. Mature workers bring other soft skills to the job. They have spent a lifetime acquiring skills, and perhaps more importantly, learning how to learn. If they aren’t already possessed of everything an employer needs, they can very quickly learn what they need to.  A lifetime and career spent absorbing and adapting to change has made them very responsive to new initiatives in the workplace, or to changing company policy. Given the opportunity, older workers gel well with younger employees and are a valuable resource which can benefit the team, and provide mentoring and not just knowledge, but wisdom, to younger, less experienced workers.

 As we move to this new business reality with fixed term Contract taking more prominence in Procurement and Vendor Management hiring, mature workers as a viable option to the hiring equation is certainly food for thought and something worth discussing internally and with Argentus on a consultative basis. We can help build depth in your Strategic Sourcing teams.

 For now over and out 




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