Why hiring older workers can benefit your business

Employers who focus on recruiting younger job applicants risk overlooking the potential of older candidates who can bring a wealth of working experience and skills to their business.

An 'older worker' typically refers to someone in employment who is age 50 or older.

As of 2020, there were 9.3 million older workers in the UK, between the ages of 50 and 64 – a significant portion of the working population.

Unsurprisingly, the employment rate for this age group has increased over time, from 55.8% in 1984 to 72% in 2020.

The UK’s ageing population means this figure is likely to increase further in the coming years, giving employers the chance to tap into a larger pool of often underused talent.

What are the benefits of hiring older workers?

Employers may recognise that hiring older workers makes good business sense, as they can offer a business a host of benefits.

Increased diversity

more diverse workforce has several business benefits, such as better problem-solving, increased productivity and output, and smarter decision-making.

Older workers may pick up newer skills from younger employees, and in return, younger employees can benefit from the experience of older workers.

An inclusive environment can help boost your brand reputation with customers, investors, and staff.

Earned experience

Older workers may be able to offer different ways to tackle projects and solve problems that younger, less experienced team members may have experience in.

Older workers may be more resilient in stressful situations, having experienced similar cases previously.

Developed skill sets

Greater experience can lead to a more developed skill set.

Older workers may have honed skills needed to fulfil their roles effectively.

For employers, this can mean less training and supervision is required.

As well as saving money, your business may be able to onboard new projects and clients more effectively with older employees who are well-versed in implementing projects.

In-house mentoring

Older workers may have a broader understanding of a role, its associated responsibilities, and how best to tackle tasks.

They may also better understand how to handle unexpected situations, such as project setbacks and customer complaints.

Sharing this knowledge with other employees can be invaluable to the business and the younger staff members.

By having older workers lead internal training sessions or provide on-the-job training, this knowledge and experience can be shared throughout your company.

Not only could this improve the output of all employees, but it could also increase productivity and industry reputation while reducing training costs.

Higher retention rates

Younger workers at the start of their careers may find themselves outgrowing their current position or leave to join other firms.

This may be less likely to happen with older workers, who typically report higher job satisfaction and may therefore be less likely to switch jobs.

Less staff turnover can increase workplace stability, retain corporate knowledge, and reduce costs and time associated with recruitment and training.

How to recruit older workers

Age-neutral job ads

Age discrimination is illegal under the Equality Act 2010.

Older job applicants can't be refused a position or opportunity because the employer thinks they may be "too old".

Reviewing your recruitment process to ensure it is not age discriminatory can be a good idea.

It can be easy to accidentally use language in job ads and job descriptions that exclude specific demographics such as age.

Before posting an ad, ask a colleague to check for any exclusionary language or phrasing that may limit who can apply.

An example of such language could be specifying the need for a degree which, due to increased university attendance amongst younger generations, might exclude older workers who have the skills needed to do the job effectively, despite the lack of a degree.

Instead, some companies specify a degree or relevant experience so as not to exclude older workers.

It can also be a good idea to include a line that states applicants of all ages are welcome to apply.

Create an age-positive workplace

Creating an inclusive, age-positive workplace could open new opportunities for existing employees.

It may also provide an opportunity to rethink and restructure work policies, such as providing flexible working options and investing in employee well-being schemes.

Flexible working may be beneficial for older workers who are also parents or carers, and well-being policies and initiatives, such as mental health days and gym memberships, can keep your employees from burning out.

Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.

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