Academic journal article Journal of Business Strategies

Small Retailer Employment of Older Workers: An Assessment

Academic journal article Journal of Business Strategies

Small Retailer Employment of Older Workers: An Assessment

Article excerpt


This paper focuses on a study which examined the employment of older workers by small retailers in the United States. It considers the literature on the future role of senior employees in the economy, the merits of hiring these individuals, their needs, and steps which can be undertaken to improve their motivation and make them more productive. Further, it sets forth the results of an empirical investigation into the senior citizen employment practices of small retailers, advantages and disadvantages of employing seniors, and expected future employment trends. The manuscript concludes with a discussion of the implications of these patterns for small retailers.


The past several decades have witnessed an aging of the United States population, as those in the baby boom generation and their progeny move on into maturity. This trend continues, as the median age of the country advances rapidly and steadily with the passage of time (Moyers & Dale, 2004). Improvements in nutritional practices, exercise patterns, and medical care have resulted in larger numbers of individuals who reach age 65 and beyond. In turn, many of these experience mental and physical health status that is superior to that of previous generations. Further, large numbers of seniors evidence a preference for expanding their working years beyond age sixty-five, either on a full-time or a part-time basis (Dychtwald, Erickson, & Morison, 2004).

Some small retailers are confronted with difficulty in recruiting, hiring and retaining capable employees and have vacant positions in both the skilled and unskilled ranks (Kraut, 2005). This pattern is perhaps most evident in regions of the country experiencing substantial economic growth, such as portions of the Southwest and Southeast. Various means of acquiring additional sought employees are available, but one that appears to possess considerable potential is to hire and retain older workers. For some small retailers, this may be the superior alternative (Peterson & Spiker, 2005).

Objectives of the Study

The study which this manuscript addresses focused on several objectives:

1. To provide insights on the degree to which small retailers in the United States employ older workers.

2. To uncover advantages of employing older workers, in the opinion of small retailers.

3. To uncover problems associated with employing older workers, in the opinion of small retailers.

4. To assess expected future hiring and retention intentions for older workers among small retailers.

Review of the Literature

The literature contains various articles which consider recruiting, hiring, and retaining seniors for positions in business and not-for profit organizations (Sullivan & Duplaga, 1997). However, a substantial proportion of the studies cited in the articles have been generic and have not focused on small business in general or small retailing in particular (Greller & Stroh, 2004). Further, some of the literature contains narratives reflecting the authors' opinions and case studies of individual firms, rather than statistical analysis which considers multiple companies (Bell, 2001). While valuable, these inquiries do not provide comprehensive coverage of the status of small retail business employment patterns.

Studies indicate that the workforce in the United States is aging rapidly and will continue to do so well into the twenty-first century ( Purcell, 2005; Fusaro, 2001). Current labor shortages were caused by unusually low birth rates among Baby Boomers and recent (sometimes early) retirements by these individuals. In turn, the shortages are particularly acute in various skill-demanding occupations, and in some parts of the country. Given the relatively small magnitude of new entrants into the labor force and the potentially large number of Boomer retirements on the horizon, labor shortages are likely to become significant during upcoming decades. …

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