By Moos, Bob
Aging Today , Vol. 28, No. 3
Wanda Baker walked into her neighborhood pharmacy to fill a prescription one day and walked out with a job offer. The former bank employee had just retired and mentioned that she wasn't ready to quit working. Her druggist took her passing remark seriously. Fifteen years later, at age 80, Baker is running the front cash register at a CVS drugstore in North Dallas.
"It's what I enjoy," she said. "My customers are my extended family." Baker is one of five older employees who work full or part time at the Preston Forest Shopping Center store.
District manager Ron Coker calls his older employees class acts who know how to make every customer feel special. "They're role models for other employees," he said. "I just wish I had more of them."
While other employers continue to consider whether to hire mature workers, CVS has gained a national reputation for recruiting older employees. At its recent national conference in Chicago, the American Society on Aging (ASA) honored the national pharmacy chain with its Business and Aging Award for the company's older-worker initiatives during the last 15 years. Since the early 19908, employees ages 50 and older have grown from 7% of the CVS workforce to 18%.
"Our interest in older workers stemmed mostly from necessity," said Stephen Wing, CVS director of government programs. "We couldn't recruit enough employees, and older workers provided an answer," he said. The company also recognized that an older workforce would be a better fit with its aging customers, he added.
CVS enlisted groups such as AARP and the National-Council on Aging to spread the word that it was in the market for older employees. Older adults now hold every kind of job in the company, from cashiers to pharmacy technicians to store managers.
Half of them joined CVS after retiring from other careers. …