As an employer you want to recruit the best person for the job regardless of their age.
No employer actually thinks that they base their recruitment and retention decisions on misconceptions, but the facts are:
- although 88 percent of employers believe that older workers can bring skills and benefits to the business, people aged over 50 are least likely to be recruited once out of work;
- some recruiting managers and recruitment agencies wrongly assume there are risks in employing mature candidates.
However, research and employer case studies1,2,3 show that the majority of older workers:
- are just as productive as their younger counterparts (at least up to age 70);
- are just as successful in training;
- take less short-term sickness absence; and
- tend to offset any loss of speed with better judgement based on years of experience.
Age is not a good indicator of return on investment – mature workers are as likely to commit to a new employer and offer many years service, even where they have previously had a more senior position or a higher wage.
The fact is each employee and jobseeker is an individual – their performance is affected more by their lifestyle and working environment than by their age. An effective working environment can help workers of all ages remain fully productive whether it is in heavy industry or services, private or public sectors4.
Making employment, training and operational decisions based on out-dated assumptions can limit your business success. So ensure your managers, supervisors and recruiting agencies don’t judge people by their age or partner with a resourcing consultancy who specialise in mature candidates. Ensure all workers are managed and valued based on what they do.
Recruitment tips for finding the right person for the job irrespective of age.
- Focus on the type of skills and experience needed to do the job.
- Don’t specify qualifications as selection criteria where they’re not essential for the job. This could exclude older candidates who might have the right skills and
experience but didn’t have the opportunity to take the qualifications specified.
- Don’t specify numbers of years experience (unless this is a legislated occupational requirement). This could exclude younger candidates with sufficient skills or experience to do the job or to offer great potential.
- Do not use language that could suggest age bias – ‘mature’, ‘young and Energetic’.
- Do not specify or indicate an age group (unless this is a legislated occupational requirement).
- Do not ask for date of birth in the main application, only in an equality monitoring section.
- Do monitor the ages of applicants, short-listed candidates and successful recruits to identify and address any unintended age bias.
- Do consider offering apprenticeships and work experience opportunities to people of any age: younger and older. The Government offers additional funding to employers for helping to develop the potential of younger workers at the start of their working lives, whilst older workers offer employers transferable skills and experience.
Here at Fortyplus People, we are passionate about age diversity and believe that a mixed-age workforce is a successful resourcing strategy for every business.
As our population is ageing, older workers are our future workforce. The need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting, retaining and retraining older workers is crucially important for businesses. In particular, industries with a higher proportion of workers will need to adapt their practices quickly to ensure they can retain and recruit the older workers who are fundamental to their workforce.