Guide sets out the business case for employing older workers

As part of an Employers Guide to “Best Practice in Age and Employment”, from the London-based later life employment consultancy Wise Age, the authors set out the benefits of harnessing the talents of older people within their workforce.

In the future we are going to have an older workforce: more over 50s will be in work than those under the age of 30. Yet only one in five employers is currently discussing ageing in the workforce at a strategic level and thus they may be unprepared. Employers need to start thinking about age friendliness to attract older workers but also to get the most return from their engagement.

Without older workers, there will be shortages in the workforce, as is currently the case. Employers that have done this thinking and have planned for recruiting, developing, retaining and managing an ageing workforce that is genuinely age friendly will be far better placed to get these benefits.

The national economic benefit

As our research and that of specialist agencies shows, employing older workers nationally will help the economy. It is estimated are that increasing the percentage by just one per cent of those aged 50-64 in work pays dividends— potentially increasing the GDP by around £5.7 billion per year and increasing income tax and National Insurance Contributions by around £800 million per year. As there are over 1.2 million pensioners who are still working and more who wish to, there only needs to be a change in recruitment attitudes by employers to benefit from this additional workforce.

Research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that a firm with a 10% higher share of workers aged 50 and over is 1.1% more productive. The experience of MacDonald’s shows that where they deliberately recruited over 50s, those stores increased their profitability, productivity, staff morale and reduced staff turnover. Other firms that have shown the benefits of employing an age diverse workforce include VW, BMW, B&Q and the chemical industry.

Staff retention improved with older workers

As older workers are both more loyal and committed and understand the difficulties of finding employment later in life they are more likely to stay with you for a long time, even after getting trained with higher skills. Employer gains come from lower job turnover and the greater management and general work experience of older workers. The average cost of recruiting a new team member is estimated at £6000 per year. In turn, older worker’s greater loyalty and retention also has an effect on productivity and continuity of knowledge.

The evidence is that age friendly employers having a mix of ages employed is also beneficial. According to a recent study by YouGov eight in ten employers (79%) in England state that older workers could help in knowledge and skill sharing. Younger employees can benefit from the advice, support and mentoring of older colleagues when this is facilitated in the management and culture of the organisation.

This is often shown in team and project working. During the last crisis our research showed those firms which retained older workers ended up hiring more younger workers, as older people were able to mentor and support them, while those that “culled” large numbers of seniors did not replace them with younger ones.

Marketing and strategy opportunities

As the growth of the “grey pound” continues with greater consumer spending by over 50s as well as seniors living longer, then understanding that market and the opportunities will be key for many employers. Having a workforce of the same age can provide the insights and knowledge that can harness the right business benefits.

Older consumers tend to prefer having the option of being dealt with by someone of their own age. Conversely organisations who believe a younger workforce is preferential may be at a disadvantage and suffer from what has been called the empathy and insight gap.

It’s in everyone’s interests to harness the talents and experience of older workers… not least those of the people employing them.

You can download the full Employers Guide to “Best Practice in Age and Employment” by clicking here:

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