Older Workers Case Study Poorman-Douglas

January 18, 2001
Because Poorman-Douglas Corporation isin Oregon’s Sunset Corridor (the equivalent of California’s Silicon Valley),it already has discovered how valuable older workers can be in a tight jobmarket. Poorman-Douglas is primarily known for its print/mail division thatprovides high-speed check, invoice, and other mailing services and its legalservices division, which does legal noticing and claims processing. The companyhas about 265 permanent employees, but sees its workforce spike to 400 to meetdemands in its production and processing areas.

    Poorman-Douglasreceived two honors last year for its work with older workers: the medium-sizedcompany Prime-Time Employer of the Year from Green Thumb and Oregon Businessmagazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon.” La Donna Burgess,HR coordinator at Poorman-Douglas, says that its reputation for being a goodplace for older workers has been “extremely positive for us for recruitingpurposes.”

    Poorman-Douglas’sexperience demonstrates several ways that older workers can be successfully integrated into the workforce. Burgess notes that roughly 10 percent of thepermanent workforce is over age 65. Many of these people have been with thecompany for most or all of their careers. Employees determine when they want toretire and whether they want to do it all at once or transition into retirementover a period of time.

    Burgess says thatabout 15 years ago, the company decided it needed a flexible workforce availableon an on-call basis to come in and hand-process mail for special clients. “Wefound that by relying on older workers to do that, we could keep a steadyworkforce and access the same people because it was a good job that fit theirlifestyle and their economic needs.” About 10 years into this program, many ofthe first group of employees began retiring permanently, and Poorman-Douglasbegan looking for replacements.

    When Poorman-Douglaswent looking for a source for older employees, it found Experience Works, anemployment agency for older and disadvantaged workers, ata job fair. Burgess says the company reaction was, “My gosh, we’ve just hitthe mother lode here.”

    The company has usedExperience Works to find workers for all areas of the business. As Burgessnotes, few people have the exact experience to come into this company. However,if people have basic skills from a profession such as teaching, the company cantrain them in the specifics of the jobs.

    Burgess has foundthat older workers tend to need less accommodation than people might think. Whenshe did a survey of older workers, she was pleasantly surprised at theirresponses. They noted the number of older workers and found that “they weretreated and respected and integrated into the population just like everybodyelse. That was what they were looking for, and that was what they appreciatedabout working for Poorman-Douglas,” Burgess says.

Workforce, February 2001, Vol80, No 2, p. 60  Subscribe Now!