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The wisdom of hiring retirees



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Dr Teresa Chu, founder of the Association of Retired Elderly, explains how local employers can take advantage of the golden oldies.

Facing global economic uncertainty and a possible downturn in Hong Kong, keeping your eyes wide open to different HR management options may be the key to surviving and even turning adversity into an opportunity.

Why looking to retirees is a savvy option

Many corporations need to realise that engaging retirees is actually a blessing in disguise. Let’s rethink about the differences in employing younger people and retirees.

True that … younger employees are more ready to accept new ideas and technology, making them more suitable to lead a corporation.

But … retirees, with ample practical experience, could be “ready-to-use” and very reliable mid-level supporting staff.

True that … when a corporation no longer needs or can afford a full-time employee, it may wish to replace them with a part-time worker.

But … it’s unrealistic to expect a young worker, who needs to feed their family to accept a part-time position. The right group of candidates should be retirees!

True that … combining job functions may be able to reduce headcount and save salary expenses.

But … expecting an employee to work as a “one-man-band” is quixotic. A better way is to engage a few part-time retirees with different talent to fit the job functions.

Many corporations need to realise that engaging retirees is actually a blessing in disguise.

Help retirees to help you

If you wish to unlock retirees’ talents, first you have to help them adapt to a part-time or temporary position. For example:

Set reasonable working hours and workloads: retirees can’t take overnight shifts or work over 48 hours a week.
Offer respectful remuneration: retirees may accept a lower than market pay, but not at a level humiliating of their 30 years of skills and experience.

Be patient during the break-in period: it takes time for everyone to transit from working full-time to part-time and from taking an executive role to a supporting one.

Communicate consistently and honestly: most retirees can be reasoned with, but they need to be told the honest facts and modern trends.

Driven by social missions, ARE Wisdom helps corporations advance their business and supports meaningful recruitment programmes.

Who can help in recruitment?

To make your recruitment plan for retirees a successful one, you need a professional and focused recruitment agency. ARE Wisdom is the first and only social enterprise in Hong Kong focusing on job matching services to enable corporations to recruit well-educated retired or semi-retired persons filling part-time, contract or freelancing positions.

Operated by a local charity, Association of Retired Elderly, ARE Wisdom provides a wide range of services such as free business/HR consultancy serviced by volunteer retired business leaders; full recruitment services offered at reasonable commission rates; free case follow-ups; and relationship-building support.

Successful stories

Driven by social missions, ARE Wisdom helps corporations advance their business and supports meaningful recruitment programmes.

Many employers avoid taking up overqualified staff, worrying that they are just marking time while finding a better job. This may not be the case for recruiting overqualified retirees. Matched by ARE Wisdom, a retired registered nurse and post-natal care tutor joined an elderly products retailer as a part-time shop keeper.

With her enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge in medical care, she could readily work independently and outperformed by taking up additional strategic business development tasks. The shop owner said: “This retiree is not only an ordinary shop keeper, but a life teacher and an excellent helper.”

Story two: Many charities and corporations’ CSR programmes have limited budgets to hire implementers, and recruitment is particularly difficult for ad hoc positions or unpleasant jobs. Supported by ARE Wisdom, a subvented patient escort project managed to recruit sufficient retirees as escorts, benefiting many ill elderly and patients living alone when they needed to attend follow-up medical consultations.

Let the successful stories continue

There are many seed money, funding or business support schemes available for SMEs and social enterprises to apply for. ARE Wisdom has a pool of talented retirees who can help in writing business proposals and preparing the application documents. Some retirees are even willing to charge on a contingency basis to show their support to meaningful or charitable projects.

So, why wait? Start to engage retirees to take your business up a notch.



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