Like most retailers, large and small, we’ve found our attempts to find part-time employees this fall have met with little success. My next move is to try to focus on retirees to see if that helps us find the help we need – we already have a number of excellent staff members who are in that demographic.

About 17% of the US population – some 56 million people – are over 65, and that number is rising.  When 65 was set as the age of retirement in 1935, that was actually beyond the average for life expectancy.  Today life expectancy for women is almost 80, despite a drop due to COVID.  That means that we should be able to find at least a few candidates interested in part-time jobs, either for the extra income or the opportunity to do interesting work.

There are a few caveats in seeking older workers, beyond any potential limitations in lifting or other physical activities. The first is that seniors may want flexible scheduling in order to spend time with family and friends. In our area, it’s not uncommon for retirees to spend the winter months in a warmer climate. Could we hire a “snowbird”? Since our busy season is November and December, that might work.

Another factor to take into consideration is whether an older employee would be comfortable working an 8-hour day. Most of our shifts are four hours, so individuals can work either a full or a half day. Those working 8 hours get a paid lunch break, of course. We also offer an every-other-weekend schedule for most employees, which makes it easier to coordinate part-time work with social activities.

We also need to take into account that “send resume” could be a stumbling block for a retired person considering part-time work. Why would the retiree have a resume? Perhaps just providing a “contact us” email address would be better, in addition to a simple application form in the store.

Senior employees who haven’t worked retail before, or in recent years, will need extra training to become familiar with your store’s technology.  Being scheduled to work alone may not have much appeal – especially if one of the reasons for working is social interaction. Manyof us enjoy having contact with friendly colleagues at work.

The best way to recruit senior workers is a subject I’m still exploring. It helps that we have a number of staff members in the over-65 demographic, and we have let them know that we’d like them to invite their friends and family to apply.  In addition to word of mouth, we will continue to use Facebook, and to reach out to our customer base.  And as with all staff members, we try to make sure that our current older employees know how important they are to our store’s success.

Happy retailing, 

Carol “Orange” Schroeder