The Untapped Potential of Older Workers in Your Organisation

Older woman at work having a meeting

Older workers make up around a third of the UK’s workforce. Yet, they are leaving for early retirement in greater numbers. And with some industries struggling to fill vacancies, looking after experienced staff becomes ever more important.

In this blog, we’ll look at ways you can retain your talent and how adapting for older staff members can benefit the company as a whole.

Why Older Workers Are Quitting

Many people quit their jobs during the pandemic. Furlough spurred many people to address their workalike balance or look at other career options. Yet, for a section of workers, the past two years have encouraged them to take early retirement.

It’s a problem for employers as older workers have often been with the company for longer and have a wealth of skills and experience that will take years to replace. Plus, staff retention is far more productive than a costly hiring process.

So How Can Employers Address the Issue of Losing Older Members of Staff?

Firstly, older members of staff might be less motivated by money. Government statistics show that 66% of employees aged between 50 and 65 years old own their homes outright. They don’t necessarily need a monthly salary to meet mortgage payments in the same way that younger workers do.

Additionally, 61% of older workers are debt free. So with no student loans and credit cards to pay off, people in this age range need different drivers for employment, such as finding meaning in their work. Therefore, engaging these employees needs a different approach. In fact, of the 58% in this age group willing to return to work, about a third of them are looking for flexible working.

Offering Flexible Work

This backs up research by CIPD which finds that older workers are more likely to be dissatisfied with their weekly working hours but are not more likely to be engaged in part-time work. The CIPD argue that given older workers are likely to have about a decade of tenure, they may be putting in flexible working requests only for these to be denied.

So if you have older employees who are asking for fewer hours and these requests are not granted, then it’s likely you’re at risk of losing talent. At the same time, a company that is able to offer flexible work becomes more attractive, especially if they’re able to do so at the same rates of pay.

There are many reasons why an older employee may want more flexibility in their working week. Often older generations are taking on more childcare responsibilities to help their own children return to work after starting a family. Or they have caring responsibilities of their own.

We should also acknowledge the impact of menopause on this situation. It’s estimated that one in 10 women quit their jobs as a result of menopause symptoms. If workplaces have support in place, this is another way that they can retain talent in later years.

Skills and Training

If we acknowledge that finances may no longer be as big a driver for older employees, then focusing on learning and development can help maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in their work.

According to research by City and Guilds Group, those over 55 are the most like to miss out on training at work. Only half of older workers have taken part in some workplace training (compared to 83% of 18-34-year-olds) and around a third have had no training in the last ten years.

Learning and development can be vital to maintaining talent and while your new hires are likely to ask about development programs at their interviews, this shouldn’t mean overlooking long-serving members of staff.

Many people thrive in their later years and want to continue working for as long as they can after retirement age. This means that investment in training is a good investment for organisations as older employees are more likely to stay with the same company.

When you consider that younger employees tend to move roles every five years, if you train an older member of staff, you’re more likely to reap the rewards of their talent and experience as well as new developments.

Support for Health and Wellbeing

Older members of staff may need extra consideration for their health and wellbeing. As we age, we will have more ailments and experience more trauma as part of life. Supporting staff through these changes can see loyal staff remain in their jobs for longer.

Additionally, not falling into the traps of old-age myths can help employers have a thriving workforce that can pass on their skills and experience to younger employees.

Untapped Potential of Older Workers

We know that as people age, they are more likely to stay in an organisation and need different motivators for work. Therefore, supporting the over 50s to find their passion and meaning in work will help both them and your company thrive.

They carry experience and skills for their job which they can pass on to others and are encouraged by learning new skills. Understanding how you can bring more flexibility to their roles, and what does motivate them to stay in the role will help your company avoid talent and experience gaps.

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