Ageism - Are we harnessing our experienced workforce?

by IoD NI Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador Paul Gillen

You may have read several pieces in relation to our aging workforce.  The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (“CIPD”) reported that over 50s make up 31% of the total workforce (an increase from 21% in the early 1990s). The Office for National Statistics reports that, during the pandemic, there was an increase of 386,096 people between 50 and 64 who became economically inactive. Of course, some of this can be through choice but there may be other factors at play which is making it more difficult for those over 50 to gain access to jobs.

The Chartered Management Institute (“CMI”), reported by the BBC, has suggested that organisations may be less open to hire older workers, preferring to recruit younger workers. Research shows that the older you are the worse it gets – A CMI survey in October 2022 showed 74% responding managers were open to recruit those between 18 and 34, 64% open to recruit those between 34 and 49, but only 42% open to recruiting those between 60 and 64.

At a time when many organisations and specific sectors are struggling with recruitment and having to deal with staff shortages, is it time to rethink our views on the older workforce and the skills, flexibility and experience they can bring to our businesses? The CIPD recommend that employers could:

• Use strategic workforce planning to understand diversity and skills profiles;

• Seek to eliminate any age bias in recruitment and selection;

• Provide relevant access to training for older workers;

• Have supportive health & wellbeing programmes which are attractive to older workers;

• Offer flexibility for those returning as well as phased retirement options to retain talent.

In return, we may just see that harnessing this somewhat untapped resource may well pay dividends to your business as well as being the right thing to do.

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