Why Older Workers Shouldn’t Be Left on the Scrapheap

January 23rd, 2015   |   Posted by

About Harry Parker

Follow my journey as I share the roadmap to living a comfortable retirement. Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.

hire older workers

Work discrimination because of age is a big issue in the workplace nowadays. A lot of people have this notion that as you grow older, you become less productive at work and thereby you are considered more of a liability instead of the asset that you once were. This is the reason why a lot of vacant positions, and even to a certain extent, job promotions, end up getting filled up by younger workers simply because of their age. Some are even given the option to retire early once they reach a certain age even if they have yet to reach their 60s. In extreme cases, older people involuntarily retire because they are forced to do so or due to redundancy largely in part because of their age even if this is considered unlawful.

It is Vital Not to Overlook Older Workers

The saying that “age is just a number” certainly holds true in the workplace. Various case studies show that there isn’t any difference when it comes to productivity between the older and younger workers.

RosAltmannCBEDr Ros Altmann CBE, a leading pensions expert and campaigner and the government’s Older Workers Champion believes that “Older workers who lose their job often lose confidence which further damages their future employability and they often feel forced to retire.” She further warns that, “Leaving older workers on the scrapheap has long-term consequences for business and growth.”

Today, more and more people in their 60s opt to continue working instead of choosing to retire. This is mostly because of the fact that getting a new job once you reach your 50s and beyond becomes challenging; many people of that age are not willing to risk their job security in hopes of finding a better position. A recent study by insurer LV= even states that two out of three people beyond the retirement age are still working; this has even become considered as the “new normal” for people in their 60s.

A recent research also shows that as many as 13.5 million vacancies will be available within the next ten years but there are only approximately 7 million younger workers, who are just about to leave school, who are able to fill those positions. Some argue that this is where migrant workers come in but the study shows that even allowing migrant workers to fill the vacancies is simply not enough. Even HRH Prince Charles supports the idea of hiring people in their 50s, after a report came out stating that the country faces the problem of running out of workers within the next decade if employers still refuse to hire or retain workers in their 50s and that it is possible for the economy to get an £88 billion boost in GDP, simply by hiring people within the age of 50-64. This notion of hiring people within that age group is slowly gaining ground as more and more people became aware of the fact that these people still have the ability and the potential to be productive given their age, contrary to popular belief.

There are plenty of reason why people in their 50s are definitely still employable.

Older Workers, Bringing Experience to the Table. Due to the length of their service to their jobs, it is a given that they have reached a level of expertise that younger workers have yet to reach. While it cannot be denied that younger workers often bring something fresh to the table, they cannot contend with the decades’ worth of experiences and knowledge of the older workers.

Trivia: bandqB&Q was the first British company to target older people. As the chain rapidly expanded in the late 1980s, it began to recruit people nobody else would hire: women returning after a career break and those over 50. Today more than a fifth of B&Q’s 38,000 staff are over 50.

Hiring and/or retaining the older workers is also beneficial because they can serve as mentors for their younger counterparts by sharing their knowledge and skills needed in the workplace so that once the older employees decide to retire, the younger ones can easily takeover the position. In turn, resources that are supposed to be used to train younger employees can be diverted elsewhere.

They Leverage Their Networks. Over the years, the older workers have managed to amass a larger and stronger network than younger employees and this is very helpful in the workplace.

They’re loyal. Since older workers are typically more satisfied with their jobs, they also tend to stay longer. Sir Ian Cheshire of B&Q could vouch for that. (See his statement in the image above.)

If you are one of the many employers refusing to hire older workers, let me tell you frankly: you are making a mistake. Skills and experience, which older workers possess, are much more important than age. Older workers are just as productive and trainable as the younger workers so age should not be a factor in hiring and/or retaining employees. Just look at the companies known for hiring people over 50 – B&Q, National Express, AT Brown Coaches, and Morrisons to name a few – even with a workforce consisting of employees nearing or beyond retirement age, they still manage to be successful and productive, even more so than their counterparts.

Harry Parker

Follow my journey as I share the roadmap to living a comfortable retirement.

Like many people around my age we are redefining what retirement is all about. Our generation is not satisfied with just sitting around waiting for time to pass. We’re breaking the rules and making our latter years mean something.

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