The candidate for this hotel job had to have just the right
qualifications: able to work potentially long hours, available to serve guests
at breakfast, capable of defusing any difficult customer service situations. In
the end, The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston
hired a candidate well into his 50s to fill this exclusive position in Fairmont
Gold, a club level featuring a private lounge.
"We wanted someone with more empathy," said Alex
Pratt, The Fairmont Copley Plaza's regional director of human resources.
"We have some older workers in our restaurant jobs who have owned a restaurant
and are successful in their own right. They still very much want to work, and
they bring a genuine warmth to the job. Some of our people work two jobs. They
have a passion for what they're doing from which we benefit."
At least 15% of The Fairmont Copley Plaza's 400 employees
are over 50, and more and more mature workers are applying for positions -- a
trend mirrored throughout the hospitality industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Facing a potential labor shortage crisis, the hospitality
industry is opening its eyes to an older pool of workers and being pleasantly
surprised by what it's finding. Mature workers are looking for jobs?not jobs
that might last six months until something better comes along.
Given the choice, many employers are hiring older workers
over their younger counterparts:
Fully 60% of employees for Chartwells School Dining
Services, part of global contract foodservice and hospitality giant Compass
Group, are over 50, and 3% are 65-plus.
"The nature of our work is part-time seasonal
(September to June), so it lends itself to someone who's not looking solely at
a 40-hour a week foodservice job," says Cathy O'Connor, regional director,
Chartwell's. "They might be subsidizing another job. Some are empty
nesters who want to get out of the house. They like to travel, and in this job
they get Christmas holidays off, March break, school holidays, summers."
Another plus for Chartwells is the ability of these mature
employees to work with students. "You're like the mom away from
home," says Ms. O'Connor.
Even in a fast-paced foodservice job, mature workers are
proving their worth. North American doughnut chain giant Tim Hortons of TDL
Group Ltd. relies on older employees to fill a number of jobs at its nearly
3,000 outlets throughout Canada and the U.S. And they find that their older
workers act as mentors to the younger staff.
"Our younger staff have an opportunity, through working
with our mature employees, to enhance their people skills, while our mature
employees feed off the youthful enthusiasm our younger employees bring,"
says corporate HR director Nan Oldroyd. "The stores are fast paced, but
our operating systems are set up to promote teamwork. Our data suggests that
our most mature age groups are not only our most tenured, but work the highest
average number of hours per week. This indicates that they are very capable of
meeting the challenge."
Recruiter Peter Shrive, a partner with Cambridge Management
Planning, offers this advice to employers hiring mature workers for hospitality
Instead of facing a labor crisis, many smart employers are
learning that a wealth of qualified, motivated, energetic candidates is already
in their midst. In the hospitality industry, employers are discovering that
with mature workers, "old" truly is gold.