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Businesses Must Leave Their Ageism at the Door to Ease Labour Shortages


As the UK government announces its plans to attract people over 50 back into the workplace, businesses must be ready to give older generations more opportunities

In a recent speech given by UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt, it was stated that there are currently 6.6 million people that are “economically inactive” in the UK, with one million of those aged between 50 and 64. According to UKG, a leading global provider of HCM, payroll, HR service delivery, and workforce management solutions, to successfully manage their way through a challenging economic climate and tackle labour shortages, businesses must do more to accommodate workers over the age of 50.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that those aged 50 and over took the opportunity to settle down during the pandemic. In fact, this age group saw the most significant increase of inactive people among all age groups since the start of the pandemic. The number of people aged 50 to 70 that moved from economic activity to inactivity between the second and third quarters of 2021 was 87,000 higher than in the same period in 2019.

Parallel to this, the UK unemployment rate sits at an alarmingly low 3.7%, and job vacancies continue to go unfilled. Such circumstances present a clear need to not only manage existing resources effectively and expand the workforce, but also entice early retirees back to work.

Despite this, recent research from the Chartered Management Insitute would suggest that businesses are less open to hiring older workers than they are younger prospective employers. Of 1,000 people managers working in UK businesses and public services, just four in ten said they were open “to a large extent” to hiring people aged between 50 and 64.

“With so many businesses struggling to recruit enough workers to plug gaps in their teams, it’s vital that people managers show an openness to welcoming more seasoned employees back into the workplace,” said Liam McNeill, Vice President, EMEA at UKG. “The UK is fast approaching recession, business leaders must assess their current workforce – which are largely Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X – and look to empower employees and managers as part of their retention strategies.”

By automating their workforce management strategy and accessing insights that can provide a better understanding of the workforce, business leaders can make timely, accurate, and company-specific decisions to help solve critical HR issues such as absence, shift scheduling, or gauging employee morale. Successfully leveraging these tools requires a complete understanding of overall business objectives, strategies, and how these two channels align within your company. This means that you can make practical and forward-thinking decisions that help the business and its employees.

McNeill continued:

“Across all industries, we’ve seen workers over 50 years of age have left the workforce en masse. To combat this, HR leaders must carefully consider the diverse needs of their employees and cater to the varying approaches to work and life. This includes allowing your people to manage their schedules and easily communicate with managers and teammates to better meet work-life balance via technology – something we like to call life-work technology – which contributes to a better employee experience and boosts the overall engagement at your organisation.”

“The modern employee is yearning for an employer who values them at work and respects their life outside of it. Regardless of what generation an employee is from, we all have non-work responsibilities and want to be present for them. There is work to be done in creating a welcoming workplace that successfully meets the needs of all employees regardless of age. Today’s employers must strive create a workplace culture where employees, young and old, feel supported, inspired, and empowered to enjoy life in and outside of work.”

Tools such as modern workforce management solutions can also facilitate enhanced communication between employer and employee, gather critical data on employee sentiment, allow employees to provide anonymous feedback and champion the employee voice.

“Data analytics tools for employee engagement are instrumental in helping organisations understand different generations’ desires and expectations. These technologies offer employers insight into the needs of every employee and can be the crucial difference as we look to navigate the challenges ahead,” McNeill concluded.

Business News Wales