Young and old: Getting the benefits from a diversely aged workforce
Guest Blog by Aliya Vigor- Robertson, co-founder of JourneyHR
In the UK, the older demographic is rising. In just 10 years, we’ll see the number of over-50s increase to around 27 million. As a result, there’s a growing trend of older, pre-retirement applicants looking to re-enter the workplace or reskill in their current role.
Although it should be easy to see the value that these experienced workers can bring to a company, there’s often still a reluctance to bring applicants like these on board. The truth is that many businesses are still unwilling to hire older workers, based on nothing but unfair bias, assumptions of the cost associated with older workers and other outdated perceptions. Instead they continue to focus all their efforts on attracting younger applicants.
But why? In reality, older generations often have many of the attributes that employers are looking for, from strong communication and time management skills to proven expertise in relationship building. They’re also less likely to move jobs and can often share a wealth of experience with the team, which can help to give the business a competitive edge.
So, how can employers make sure they are offering the right opportunities and engaging older workers – whether they are new applicants or already in the organisation?
Recruitment and reskilling
Most business leaders already know that employee diversity brings a wealth of benefits for the business – and having workers from different generations is no exception.
Hiring older employees is highly advantageous in many ways. For example, lessons learnt from previous roles and responsibilities can help them identify more effective ways of running a team, leading a project or even managing more junior team members. Some businesses are now offering ‘returnship’ programmes for older applicants, giving them the opportunity to get the fundamental understanding of new roles and responsibilities. Intergenerational mentoring programmes are also extremely successful where young workers help older employees become more comfortable with technology.
At the same time, providing existing staff with opportunities to reskill is one of the best ways of keeping hold of them for longer. Retraining current employees is far be more cost effective than bringing on a new member of staff – especially if the person is keen to learn new skills.
What’s more, these reskilled employees will already have an established understanding of how the business works, as well as its structures and processes – something that can be invaluable when deadlines are looming.
Creating an inclusive culture
Many companies who have a wide range in age have created options to work shorter work weeks or flexible hours. Some employers offer the ability to work from home or an office closer to home to allow for shorter commuting. Whether they’re aimed at prospective or current employees, it’s important to make sure that any communications around HR and recruitment are inclusive.