Hello PPMA members and friends

Recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges that we face as a profession, so our blog post this week was written earlier this year by Laura Comben from our good friends and supporters Jobs Go Public and if focuses on hiring over 50’s to help plug some of the gaps.

This February, the UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt sparked a debate about hiring the over 50s by suggesting that early retirees should replace the golf course with contributing toward the economy. Lazy stereotypes aside, research shows that having more over 50s in work would boost the economy and productivity. Later retirements, cost of living, skills shortages and longer lives are changing attitudes toward ageing and work, but today’s recruitment processes don’t always align with demographic changes.

Our clients in the public sector regularly tell us that they’re looking for experienced older candidates to fill their flexible roles, so the demand is there. To help you get started, we’ve put together a guide that includes:

  • The benefits of hiring older candidates
  • What mature job seekers value most at work
  • How ageism in the workplace affects employees

Why recruit the over 50s?

The over 50s make up a third of the UK workforce. However, around 824,000 people aged 50-64 weren’t in work but wanted to be before the pandemic, according to the Centre for Better Ageing. Hiring from a wider talent pool isn’t just a nicety, it also makes practical business sense, too. Here are just some of the ways that the over 50s or retirees can add value to your workplace:

Better diversity

The case for better diversity in the workplace isn’t just cultural but based on better business outcomes, too. Benefits include more efficient problem-solving, a deeper understanding of your customer base and improving brand reputation.

Subject knowledge

Having someone in your team with years of subject or sector knowledge provides an invaluable boost to the rest of the team, particularly younger members. Experienced hires can provide training, lead workshops and provide practical advice in an area that now comes naturally to them.

Skills and confidence

Just as the over 50s can provide training, they often need very little training or supervision in order to do their job effectively. Considerations must be made for those returning to work after a long unemployment gap, but they will have generally built up the necessary skills to be confident in their work.

Higher retention rates

Hiring older workers boosts retention rates. Several studies show that older workers are generally more satisfied at work, are less likely to switch jobs and will stay in a job longer than younger age groups.

What do mature workers value most at work?

According to data published by the ONS in 2022, which surveyed older people looking to return to work, people after 50 were more likely to consider returning to work (58%) than those aged 60 years and over (31%).

The same ONS report found that job seekers in their 50s:

  • Prefer part-time work (69%)
  • Value jobs that suit their skills and experience (54%)
  • View flexibility as the most important factor at work (36%)
  • Are looking for remote jobs from home (18%)
  • Need roles that fit around caring responsibilities (16%).

How ageism in the workplace affects employees

While it’s wrong to say that hiring the over 50s should be treated any differently than other job seekers, there are considerations to factor into the recruitment process:

Attracting over 50s candidates

Ageism in the workplace hasn’t gone away. In fact, older workers were more likely to be made redundant during the pandemic. Once redundant, they were less likely to be re-employed than younger workers, according to The Centre for Ageing Better. Despite legislation, older job seekers can experience bias.

How hiring managers can mitigate bias

  • Keep date of birth data separate from your job application forms
  • Focus on experience and ability rather than age
  • Provide practical feedback to help candidates returning to the workplace
  • Stay away from jargon in your job ads
  • Don’t make the application process time-consuming
  • Focus on creating diverse interview panels

Ensure staff are aware of bias

It’s important to recognise that many stereotypes about older people do exist and to be aware of how they may influence decision-making. Everyone involved in the recruitment process should recognise and know the consequences of ageism in order to build a truly inclusive company culture. Many companies find that specific training in this area is useful and is becoming more widely accessible.

Provide job flexibility

As we’ve outlined, older job seekers have caring and healthcare needs, which can preclude them from full-time work. So, employers should expect requests for flexibility and always follow a Code of Practice for handling flexible working requests.

Many employers have already updated their practices on flexibility in the workplace following the pandemic. It is now a top priority of jobseekers across the age spectrum as the majority seek to rebalance work with family life.

Find the right people for your team

We understand that hiring the right person takes time, whether you’re focusing on hiring the over 50s or other candidates. There are many factors to take into consideration to ensure you’re building a successful and diverse workplace.

Take advantage of our 20+ years in recruiting for public sector organisations. Our end-to-end resourcing service enables you to find the best candidates for your specialist and hard-to-fill roles.