“I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the people.”
Bloomberg has reported that more senior citizens have entered the fast-food market as those restaurant chains have actively aimed to recruit this age demographic.
Yes, the job market is tight, but the senior citizens have what teenagers lack: social skills and punctuality.
Bloomberg wrote that people between the ages of “65 to 74 is expected to grow 4.5 percent, while those aged 16 to 24 is expected to shrink 1.4 percent” by 2024. The market also expects this area to grow for senior citizens “to supplement often-meager retirement savings.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics believes the labor force will have 164 million people by 2024. People over 55 will make up 41 million while 65 and over will be 13 million.
While people may complain that the retirement age is too high, it doesn’t change the fact that people have started to live and remain healthy a lot longer, which pushes them to keep working. More education also inspires senior citizens to stay in the workforce.
You’d think once you retire, it’s all fun and games. But older people have found boredom in retirement:
Stevenson Williams, 63, manages a Church’s Chicken in North Charleston, South Carolina. He’s in charge of 13 employees, having worked his way up from a cleaning and dishwashing job he started about four years ago and sometimes works as many as 70 hours a week when it’s busy. Williams is a retired construction worker and had never worked at a restaurant before, but was bored staying at home.
“It’s fun for a while, not getting up, not having to punch a clock, not having to get out of bed and grind every day,” he says. “But after working all your life, sitting around got old. There’s only so many trips to Walmart you can take. I just enjoy Church’s Chicken. I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the people.”
Then there’s the skills, which breaks my heart, because these kids need these skills in order to function in the real world and those after school job whether it’s at McDonalds or a grocery store allows them to sharpen those abilities:
Seniors typically have more developed social skills than kids who grew up online and often would rather not be bothered with real-world interactions. At Church’s Chicken, Williams coaches his younger co-workers on the niceties of workplace decorum. “A lot of times with the younger kids now, they can be very disrespectful,” he says. “So you have to coach them and tell them this is your job, this is not the street.”
Then there’s the economics of it all. People demand these jobs pay them $15 an hour, but the senior citizens remain content in the role:
Hiring seniors is a good deal for fast-food chains. They get years of experience for the same wages—an industry median of $9.81 an hour last year, according to the BLS—they would pay someone decades younger. This is a considerable benefit in an industry under pressure from rising transportation and raw material costs.
James Gray from Calibrate Coaching says older people are also a good deal financially because they aren’t always looking to move up and earn more.
They’re not “necessarily looking for a VP or an executive position or looking to make a ton of money,” he says.
Companies have latched onto the idea of hiring senior citizens. They recruit “in senior centers and churches” and place “want ads on the website of AARP.” Bloomberg continued:
AARP has become a veritable recruiting hub for the industry. In June, American Blue Ribbon Holdings LLC, which owns several casual dining chains, paid $3,500 to list hourly and management jobs on the non-profit’s website and hired five people for its Bakers Square and Village Inn dining brands. Bob Evans, a 500-plus-store sit-down chain that serves pot roast, biscuits and other homey fare, also recently advertised with AARP. Older hires typically work as hosts who seat customers and are “a nice fit with our brand,” says John Carothers, senior vice president of human resources.
Honey Baked Ham Co. is looking to churches and senior homes to help fill its 12,000 seasonal jobs for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. The glazed-ham seller, which has more than 400 domestic locations, says older Americans are a key part of its staff, especially amid the labor crunch.
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