This article has been submitted by The Welsh Government
Did you know? Within the next five years, one in three workers in Wales will be over the age of 50.
With our population living for longer and maintaining good health beyond pension age, it’s been revealed that more than half of workers currently aged over 55 plan to work beyond their 65th birthday.
Despite these findings, employers often focus on how to attract and recruit the best young workers, overlooking the possibilities and potential of their older members of staff. Indeed, workers over the age of 50 are the least likely to be recruited once they are out of work – a surprising statistic, given the wealth of working experience this demographic can bring to employers.
Age discrimination during recruitment is illegal, but hiring older workers is not about egalitarian ideals – it’s about using good business sense.
Companies who fail to invest in a mixed-generation workforce may soon find themselves without enough workers to maintain their current business models and growth plans.
The idea that businesses can replenish their workforces exclusively with millennials is unrealistic – by the year 2022, only half the number of young people we need to fill vacancies in Wales will be joining the working world. Older workers are an increasingly essential piece of the puzzle for businesses who wish to continue prospering in Wales over the coming years.
Still unconvinced older workers are as valuable as their younger counterparts? Here are five myth-busting facts that demonstrate why recruiting, training and retaining older employees is a smart business move.
- Older workers bring a broader range of skills and experience to a business
The value of experience should never be overlooked when it comes to recruiting for a growing business. While qualifications such as A-levels and university degrees can demonstrate a high level of aptitude, they are not a replacement for the wide range of emotional and practical business skills gained by spending years in a real working environment.
With experience comes the ability to make the right calls during challenging situations. Studies show that, compared to younger workers, older staff members have superior judgment abilities, and make their decisions based on years of practical knowledge gained from working in similar scenarios.
- Businesses with older workers tend to spend less on recruitment
Some employers mistakenly believe that hiring older workers is a costly exercise, as the chances of them leaving are higher due to retirement. In fact, the opposite is true: on average, workers over the age of 50 stay in their jobs for longer than younger ones who are more likely to seek advancement opportunities elsewhere.
Even older workers who have previously held senior positions or higher wages than their current roles are shown to remain loyal to their employers. For a high profile example, look no further than Bake Off queen Mary Berry – the 81-year-old’s refusal to jump ship when Channel 4 acquired the hit show means the BBC has retained one of its most popular personalities – and probably for less money than Channel 4 would have been in a position to offer.
- Older workers take fewer short-term sickness days
Another misconception about older workers is they cost their employers more money by taking more sick leave than younger staff members.
The truth is older employees are generally less likely to take a sick day than workers in their 20s. A recent survey showed that while 44% of younger people will pretend to be ill for a day off, only 12% of over 50s do this.
- Older workers can help to mentor and pass on skills to younger staff members
By hiring a multi-generational workforce, businesses can encourage older workers to act as mentors. By working closely with older team members who have experience in dealing with a wide range of working scenarios, younger team members can pick up invaluable skills without having to attend costly training programmes.
Welsh music icon Tom Jones is a classic example of mentorship in action. Having enjoyed a six-decade musical career, the 76-year-old singer from Pontypridd is now putting his talents to use as a coach and mentor to young singers on ITV’s The Voice.
- Having older workers in your team can appeal to an ageing population
It’s not just the workers within your company who are getting older. With life expectancy on the rise, you can also expect to deal with older customers as the years pass.
A closer level of understanding between staff and customers gives your business a competitive advantage. Invest in an all-age workforce, and you’ll be well-placed to anticipate and serve the needs of your clients on a long-term basis.