If you were managing a fast food restaurant, you would hire the best employees you could find: people who were reliable, punctual and friendly – not to mention people willing to work for minimum wage. According to this interesting article just published by Bloomberg, a growing number of restaurant chains are finding these ideal fast food employees, not at the local high school, but at the local senior center.
Fast Food Companies Recruiting with AARP, Senior Centers, Churches
The Bloomberg article says we might need to change our mental image about the sullen teenage worker behind the fast food counter. “That’s because senior citizens are taking his place—donning polyester, flipping patties and taking orders. They’re showing up at casual dining chains such as Bob Evans and fast-food operators like McDonald’s, which says it plans to make senior citizens one hiring focus in the coming year.” In a quest to find the best quality workers to meet their needs, these chains are plowing new ground, “recruiting in senior centers and churches. They’re placing want ads on the website of AARP.” At a time when the number of youthful workers seems to be declining, a growing number of older workers are either staying in the workforce longer or reentering it, and they are being greeted with open arms by recruiters in the hospitality industry.
There are a couple of reasons for this trend toward hiring older workers, Bloomberg suggests, one quantitative and the other qualitative. First, according to the article, the quantity of younger workers is dropping due to U.S. demographics. This is “the tightest job market in almost five decades,” and the number of working Americans in the 16 to 24 age group is actually declining, dropping about 1.4 percent in the decade between 2014 and 2024. By contrast, many older Americans want to keep working, either to stay busy or to supplement meager retirement savings. There will be about 4.5 percent more workers in the 65-74 age range by 2024 than there were in 2014, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Restaurant chains and other employers are likely to see more applicants with grayer hair than at any time in the past.
Better Soft Skills, Better Work Ethic
Qualitatively, these older workers are a cut above their teen counterparts, which explains why they are being welcomed so warmly. “Recruiters say older workers have soft skills—a friendly demeanor, punctuality—that their younger cohorts sometimes lack,” Bloomberg reports. “Seniors typically have more developed social skills than kids who grew up online and often would rather not be bothered with real-world interactions.” One 63-year-old manager of a Church’s Chicken restaurant in South Carolina says he spends quite a bit of time coaching 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 told Bloomberg. “So you have to coach them and tell them this is your job, this is not the street.”
Bloomberg says that AARP has become “a veritable recruiting hub” for the restaurant industry seeking to hire older workers. One national company which owns several casual dining chains paid AARP to advertise both hourly and management jobs on the organizations website and hired five people as a result. Other chains are following suit, such as the 500-location Bob Evans chain, which likes to hire older workers as hosts to welcome and seat restaurant guests. The company’s head of Human Resources calls these older hires “a nice fit with our brand.” Another national chain, Honey Baked Ham Company, is recruiting in churches and senior homes to help fill 12,000 seasonal jobs in 400 locations for the holidays this year.
Planning is the “Secret Sauce”
As nice as this may sound, there’s a downside to the notion of seniors being recruited into minimum wage jobs in the fast food industry. Articles like the Bloomberg piece remind us once again of the old saying that failing to plan means planning to fail, and nowhere is that truer than in retirement planning. If you want to go back into the workforce and take a fast food job because you choose to, that’s fine – but if you’re working minimum wage because you have to, we would suggest that it shouldn’t have to be that way. What’s missing is a broader, more comprehensive approach to the problem. Retirement planning is about far more than money, which is why it’s essential that you look at your financial picture as just one piece of a puzzle. A well-rounded retirement plan must deal with money issues but also the other critical facets of retirement living: your housing plans, your legal protection, your medical coverage (both short and long-term) and communication with your family. These elements of a healthy retirement plan work together, as part of an interconnected and interdependent whole.
Fortunately, there’s one retirement planning strategy that does exactly that: a LifePlan from AgingOptions. And there’s an easy and enjoyable way to find out about LifePlanning, without cost or obligation, and that’s to join Rajiv Nagaich at a LifePlanning Seminar. They’re free, fun, and information-packed, and there’s probably one near you. Visit our Live Events page where you’ll find a complete calendar of upcoming seminars, along with a simple online registration form. Whether you’ve been preparing for retirement all your life or just started yesterday, you’ll find a trove of useful information at a LifePlanning Seminar, so we hope to see you at a live event soon. Age on!
(originally reported at www.bloomberg.com)