the unsung potential of an older workforce.

Younger is not necessarily better when hiring. The 21st century workforce looks increasingly mature, and although there remains a cultural wariness around hiring older applicants, recruiting in the 50+ pool can bring a wealth of unexpected resources.

Why wouldn’t an employer take advantage of years of experience and accumulated knowledge?

experience.

This is the obvious one: mature workers know their stuff. Most employees over 50 will have had years of experience in the workplace. They know how to manage people, how to communicate effectively and how to deploy their diverse skillset. Plus their families are likely to be older, so travel and childcare concerns will be less of an issue.

dedication.

Mature workers often come to new roles towards the end of long, successful careers. They’re experienced enough to know what kind of position they want, how and when they’ll thrive, and therefore how fully they can commit themselves to the challenges presented.

reduced turnover, recruitment and costs.

Nationwide, for example, reports that their annual turnover is 4% for older staff, with recruits in their 50s and 60s staying for an average of 13 years. Turnover jumps up to 10% for younger employees, meaning greater disruption and more expensive recruitment and training programmes.

productivity.

Millennials will undoubtedly dispute these characterisations, but the fact is that growing up with smartphones, laptop and the boundless resource of the internet makes it much harder to concentrate on one task at a time. A study published by the BBC entitled A Generation of Cyberslackers suggests that Millennials are more likely to become distracted by smartphones and the internet. Employers will find that mature workers don’t have the same difficulties.

less disruptive short-term sick-leave.

Although mature employees are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions, they don’t cause anything like as much trouble as young employees when it comes to short term interruptions. B&Q claims that absenteeism is around 39% lower among their older employees.

patience.

Mature workers didn’t have Google or Netflix like the those today do so missed out on the ‘instant gratification’ provided by technology. But that means they’re aware problem solving actually takes time and concentration. Often older employees have also spent time raising children and dealing with long term partners, which will have equipped them with the skills to pick their battles and keep their tempers. They also have plenty of experience with multi-tasking and stress management, making them a useful resource for handling junior staff who might struggle with the pressure of some positions.

teaching ability.

We all know that mature workers bring years’ worth of education, training, knowledge and experience, which makes them hugely valuable in their own right. But they also have the potential to pass that knowledge on to other employees.

And soon everyone will be jumping on the bandwagon. 50PlusWorks (linked above) predicts that by 2020, an ageing population will see many more people in their 50s (and fewer in their 40s), meaning the mature workforce will play a central role in filling vacancies and responding to job growth in the next decade.

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