The retail sector is often seen an as ideal place for young people to gain work experience and earn money, especially those still at school or university.
But after 13 years running a home organisation store in Adelaide, Dave Strutton believes retail needs more mature workers and fewer students.
“I’ve hired plenty of young workers – from permanent staff to casuals in busy sales periods – and many are excellent employees,” said Dave, owner of Howards Storage World.
“But when it comes to hiring long-term staff, my experience is that the most reliable and loyal workers are usually those who are older,” he said.
“Among my most valued team members are two staff who are both aged over 60. I also have an assistant manager who is 51 and my longest serving employee will be 50 next year.”
Retail workers officially make up around 10 per cent of Australia’s workforce and their average tenure in one job is a few months for younger workers and up to two years for older workers.
Dave, who turns 49 next March, believes older retail workers are usually more willing to learn and listen and have more capacity to commit to set shifts.
“Having staff that you can rely upon to be available helps enormously with rostering for a store that is open most days of the year,” he said.
“Unlike university students, my older staff members are also better able to relate to our core customers – middle-aged women.”
Other advantages of hiring older retail workers is that they often have previous experience working in a store or even running their own business and they are usually reliable, trustworthy and loyal.
“Like me, most of my over 50s staff consider retail to be a career and not just an in-between job.”
While some retailers prefer to employ younger staff members at lower hourly rates, it often proves not to be a cost-effective method.
“I strongly believe success in retail doesn’t just come from having the right products on the shelf, it also comes from having the right staff. In my experience, that should include older workers.”