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Older Workers – Why Should Businesses Invest? Business News Wales Exclusive

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With the many schemes and investment opportunities in place to employ older workers, Business News Wales asks: ‘Why should businesses invest in older workers?’

Alex Parr - WolfestoneWolfestone

Alex Parr | Managing Director

Older workers can bring a wealth of knowledge, experience or resources to the role. Through developing themselves alongside their careers, they’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses, understand the nature of business and – statistically – more loyal employees.

As a proud Chwarae Teg employer, we actively welcome everyone from all walks of life. We are always looking for the best person for the role. Wolfestone aims to invest in people with accreditations from Chwarae Teg, Investors in People and a finalist this year for Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Skills & People Development’ award.

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Matthew Sutton - Greenaway ScottGreenaway Scott

Matt Sutton | Director

Employing a young workforce can be a compelling notion for many businesses. There is a common preconception that young employees are much more tech savvy than their older counterparts, and that they will bring with them a fresh and energetic business approach. However, investing an age friendly and diverse workforce can undoubtedly give your business a competitive edge, as it provides you with a wide range of skills and approaches to utilise. Older workers can, for example, help to mentor and pass on their knowledge to the new workers, saving your business significant time and money in training and recruitment. There are now government plans in place with a view to raising the awareness and accessibility of apprenticeships for those aged 50 and above.  With many people now choosing to work well beyond retirement age, investing in older workers is an investment in your business’s future.

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Innovantage

Richard Turner | CEO

There is without doubt a paradigm shift in workforce composition and engagement for the employer in today’s modern  world. Gen Z are demanding bespoke work packages rather than fitting into a traditional  career hierarchy and immediately forcing employers to change how they actively engage with workers. There is also a significant shortage of workforce available generally as people opt for the ‘secure/safe’ career option post Brexit and the demand for more free time.

This change in employee requirements and lack of available workforce (supply) means that an employer should consider investing in older workers,  either pre/post retirement or post family career break to compliment the workforce demand and balance.  These employees by definition, have a more traditional work ethic, proven business experience and overall process/mentoring knowledge to support and deliver both micro and long term projects across all levels and sectors of business.

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Elaine Ballard - Taff HousingTaff Housing

Elaine Ballard | Chief Executive

Workers of all ages bring strengths to any business. At Taff, we were early adopters of proposals to end age discrimination, by removing a statutory retirement age. Several long term staff members chose to stay on after their ‘normal’ retirement age, as they really enjoyed their work. A housekeeper at our hostel for young Mums was keen to stay on, and we were delighted to have her as she knew the project inside out, and was always on hand to give good advice to residents – and staff!

Experience is a very valuable commodity in social housing, as is the ability to deal with challenging and sometimes stressful situations. Experience helps develop resilience and a calming influence when the warning signs of difficult situations start to appear.

‘Corporate Memory’ is another valuable resource – records only tell part of the story, and someone who knows the nuances and history can help deliver a different perspective.

Our oldest retiree was 71, and many more have worked well into their 60’s.  Twelve of our current workforce are 60+, and 38 are between 50-59, so we are actively encouraging people to think beyond 60/65.  As someone who is entering ‘bus pass’ territory very shortly, I’m one of them!

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Quantum Advisory

Stuart Price | Partner and Actuary

Firstly, older workers are generally more flexible in the hours they can work as they have less family responsibilities. They’ll likely be the ones available for working unsociable and irregular hours which shouldn’t be disregarded.

Older workers also retain valuable experience both within the organisations and the industry as a whole and can use this to help with succession planning; passing on their knowledge to younger, less experienced workers.

As employees get older and start thinking about retiring, employers can assist this by offering a flexible retirement and allow them to reduce their working hours but supplement their income by taking some of their retirement benefits from the Company’s pension arrangement.

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Business Doctors

Graham Leslie Morgan | Managing Director

A regular comment by Business Owners is their challenge in recruiting the ‘right employees’ for their business and I genuinely believe that will get tougher over the next 5 years. I say that against a statistical downturn in the number of teenagers coming through the education system but also uncertainty around a post brexit Britain and our ability to rely on european workers in the same way as we have for the last decade. Unemployment is is at some of the lowest levels we have experienced for many years and Family Business owners will need to plan more effectively than ever to bring on board staff to fill new positions and to replace old.

Accordingly the older worker will have a huge role to play over coming years as effective members of the staff team and that will involve retraining schemes to make sure they are confident especially with new technology. Alongside there will be a responsibility for these older workers to prepare themselves for the type of positions that will become available.

There are an increasing number of schemes that can assist with training and up skilling and these need to be embraced. We have already seen supermarkets, department stores and wholesaler operation embrace the older worker and draw on their experience, expertise and customer service skills. The modern workforce does need to deal with the new dynamic of in essence having up to 4 generations working alongside each other. Something the text books have never written about as its not happened before.

My message is very much one that positively supports the role older workers can play in a modern business and those Business owners that do not have the opportunity on their radar will miss out on a valuable addition to their organisation.

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Croner

Paul Collins | Business Manager

Older workers bring valuable experience to the workplace, and often boost overall safety culture.

Where employment and health and safety is concerned, employers must make reasonable modifications to the workplace to enable older workers to carry out their tasks safely and effectively for as long as they are capable to do so.

It is important for employers to remember that discrimination in respect of age is different from all other forms of direct discrimination in that it can be justifiable, if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end such as considering changes to work that may be needed to ensure older workers can remain in the workforce.

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If you would like to find out about joining the Business News Wales Expert Panel or contributing to Business News Wales, contact Chris McColgan at [email protected] or call 02920 376 122