Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Case Study: How a Social-Service Group Tailors its Appeal to Older Employees

In the March 8 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Elizabeth Schwinn writes about how the YMCA of Greater Rochester made a major push, starting in 2004, to recruit older workers and aged its workforce so that a full 20% of the charity's 2,100 workers are older than 50--its oldest employee being an 89-year-old fitness instructor. According to Fernán R. Cepero, the Rochester Y's vice president for human resources, this change the Y has found that:
  • older people always show up for work, unlike some of his younger employees;
  • the older employees are more likely to complete assignments and possess speaking and writing skills that younger people sometimes lack;
  • older workers are eager to learn new skills and are savvy about new technology;
  • the turnover rate among workers who are 50 or older is less than 2 percent, compared with 20 percent overall.
The YMCA may be a leading example of how some experts suggest that charities may be in a good position to recruit some of the boomers leaving jobs in business.
Nearly two-thirds of baby boomers say they want to work for a nonprofit organization or the government after they retire, according to a 2005 survey by the MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures, a nonprofit think tank. "These boomers represent a vast pool of knowledge and experience," says Patrick Cullinane, director of a program at the American Society on Aging that encourages older people to get involved in civic activities.

To get those older workers, though, charities will have to learn what incentives they must offer them.

"You're looking at a generation that has a desire to work, but not necessarily for money," says Tim L. Wollerman, manager of work-force resources at the AARP. "They want to work in a different capacity or nontraditional hours. They want a stronger work-life balance."
Source: The Chronicle of Philanthropy "A Charity's Mature Vision" (March 8, 2007)

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