Supporting an ageing workforce will boost retention

An older man looks at a piece of paper from a file

Ageism has no place in the workforce, as pizza chain Domino’s was reminded when it asked a potential female employee her age during an interview. Age is one of nine protected characteristics under The Equality Act 2010, which means you’re breaking the law if you discriminate against someone because of their age. More importantly, an ageing workforce brings valuable skills and experience.

How many employees are aged over 50?

Worldwide, according to the International Longevity Centre, older workers are making up a greater proportion of the workforce across the G20. One in 3 workers is 50, predicted to increase to 4 in 10 by 2040. According to the CIPD, over 10.4 million older workers account for nearly a third (32.6%) of the workforce. There are more than 1.2 million workers over the age of 65.

The challenges of recruiting and retaining older workers

However, recently over 50s have been a group reconsidering their work-life balance as part of a so-called Great Resignation. Following the pandemic, around 300,000 more workers aged 50 to 65 are now economically inactive in what the tabloid newspaper The Express dubbed the Silver Exodus. Over 50s are leaving work due to illness and disability and because they don’t want to work anymore, says an ONS report.

Here, we offer our top tips on recruiting and retaining an older workforce and explore the benefits.

1. Support employees’ changing needs

Poor health is “the most common reason people stop working before they want to or before they reach State Pension age,” according to the Centre for Ageing Better. According to statistics, 2% of the working-age population becomes disabled every year, and 78% of disabled people acquire their impairment aged 16 or older. As people age, they may also be living with Long-Term Conditions such as Long Covid, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease or High Blood Pressure.

2% of the working-age population becomes disabled every year

Making Reasonable Adjustments for employees will aid retention, as well as being a legal requirement. ClearTalents will enable your employees to self-report any Reasonable Adjustments they need and offers tips on making these in the office and for hybrid workers.

2. Take account of caring responsibilities

Over 50s are likely to have caring responsibilities. According to the ONS, one in four older female workers, and one in eight older male workers, have caring responsibilities. Nearly three in five carers in England and Wales are aged 50 years and over, and one in five people aged 50 to 69 are informal carers. ClearTalents specifically addresses the needs of carers in the workplace, so you can make Reasonable Adjustments to enable them to stay at work—for example, part-time or flexible hours, or hybrid and home working.

Find out how ClearTalents can support employees with caring responsibilities.

3. Boost retention and buck the Great resignation

While Covid-19 may have spawned a Great Resignation, including among the over 50s, evidence suggests that an older workforce may bring greater loyalty. According to BSIGroup, only 4% of older workers change employers yearly.

4. Adopt a flexible approach

An older lady working on a laptop from inside a carFlexibility is crucial to those over 50, according to a survey by Saga Populus on behalf of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The survey found that over three-quarters (78%) of workers over 50 would like more flexible hours, and 73% would like to see more part-time roles on offer.

Increasingly, we’re shifting to hybrid and flexible working across all employees. ClearTalents can support your people’s needs in the office, at home and hybrid as it offers up to three different diversity profiles per employee.

5. Encourage mentorship and aid retention

Mentoring is now considered one of the top career development and progression strategies, says mentoring platform PushFar Ltd. It’s good for retention, too, with 50% of younger professionals saying that workplace mentorship would make them more likely to stay at a company and 86% of professionals claiming that having access to mentoring is a factor in them staying with an organisation. A Multigenerational workforce is good for encouraging mentorship. Seven in ten workers say they like working with generations other than their own, according to the AARP, an American non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering over 50s. The AARP found that mentorship is crucial in promoting a positive attitude towards an age-diverse workforce. An AARP survey found that:

  • For younger workers, older colleagues are valued for their skill as teachers (77%)
  • For older workers, their younger colleagues offer an opportunity to pass on their skills and knowledge (79%) and for providing an opportunity to consider a different perspective (76%)

6. Be inclusive in advertising roles

Avoid bias in job advertisements, which may put off older candidates. According to the Centre For Ageing Better, more than 36% of 50 – 69-year-olds feel at a disadvantage applying for jobs due to their age. Studies by the Centre for Ageing Better also show that pension contributions and flexible working was associated with a higher likelihood of older jobseekers applying. So, employers should be thinking about their packages and should not age discriminate against this.

A study also showed that words stereotypically associated with younger age like ‘innovative’ and ‘dynamic’ are more commonly used than older–age stereotypical words such as ‘knowledgeable’. These examples show how more senior job seekers are turning their backs on adverts, and rightly so. Job descriptions and roles should be ‘age-friendly’ and not show age discrimination.

For more information on how ClearTalents can support you, Contact Us.

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