ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Senior citizens are valuable employees at fast-casual dining and QSRs, according to a recent report in the Seattle Times.
Foodservice establishments are placing job ads on seniors’ websites, including AARP, the advocacy group for Americans 50-plus; at churches, and senior centers in hopes of recruiting older workers, who are credited with having a friendly demeanor and punctuality.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2014 and 2024, the number of working Americans aged 65 to 74 will grow 4.5%, while those aged 16 to 24 will shrink 1.4%.
Stevenson Williams, 63 and a retired construction worker, manages a Church’s Chicken in North Charleston, S.C. He worked his way up from a cleaning and dishwashing job he started four years ago and now manages 13 employees. His work week is sometimes 70 hours long, but he thinks it’s better than staying home.
“It’s fun for a while, not getting up, not having to punch a clock, not having to get out of bed and grind every day,” he says. “But after working all my life, sitting around got old. There’s only so many trips to Walmart you can take. I just enjoy Church’s Chicken. I enjoy the atmosphere. I enjoy the people.”
Seniors typically have more developed social skills than kids who grew up online and often would dismiss fact-to-face interactions. Williams coaches younger employees on workplace decorum. “A lot of times with the younger kids now, they can be very disrespectful,” he says. “So you have to coach them and tell them this is your job, this is not the street.”
Toni Vartanian-Heifner, 67 and a former teacher, works part-time at a Honey Baked Ham restaurant in Kirkwood, Mo. She makes about $10 an hour and receives a 50% discount on food. Best of all, she appreciates the people she meets.
“I enjoy the social part of it,” she said. “I think I’m going to work for at least five more years.”