The majority (65%) of older workers believe the jobs market is closed to them by the time they reach 55. More than half (56%) of employees want to continue to work past age 65. But two-thirds of business leaders admit to encouraging older staff to retire at, or before, the state pension age.
That’s according to a new study from 55/Redefined, a new organisation addressing ageism and offering members a range of services, inspiration and tools covering jobs, legal, finance and lifestyle.
Ageism is pervasive in UK society, particularly when it comes to the workplace. It has been compounded by the pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on older workers.
A disconnect between young and old
Perhaps the most concerning finding is that only 24% of leaders in HR aged 25 to 30-years-old were “very” willing or motivated to recruit workers in the 55 to 75 age categories. This is a stark contrast to the 63% of older HR leaders aged 46 to 50.
It means ageism is being perpetuated by the very people that control HR policy and standards – although this could perhaps be an unintended consequence of focusing exclusively on other protected diversity and inclusion characteristics.
So here are four actions to tackle ageism in your organisation:
- Be bias-active
Understand the level of bias that may already exist in your organisation against age, then deliver training and insight tailored to your business. This is something we can help with at 55/Redefined [add link], so don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts.
- Flex appeal
Leaders should also be creating new flexible roles that appeal to the over 55 talent pool. While the majority of employees surveyed want to work beyond the age of 65, the research showed that they value their time outside of work too. Offering permanent roles at three or four days per week, through to rehiring retired professionals for key periods of the year on flexible contracts, may appeal to and attract over-55s and allow employers access to skilled and experienced workers.
- Change tack
90% of employees believe they have transferable skills to move role/industry and 89% would take a pay cut to do so. But at present, only 35% of employers are prepared to hire and re-skill this over 55 talent group. We have to be pragmatic about skills, particularly in the current climate. With increasing talent shortages and many businesses struggling to fill key roles, hiring by looking beyond experience and technical fit to soft skills, behaviour, motivation, and cultural fit, might be a welcome solution.
- Engage the age
Nobody knows what over 55s want better than the people themselves. Be proactive in asking your existing older workforce what they want and how you can best support them to remain engaged in work for longer.
With a widespread talent shortage impacting many industries, it makes little sense that employers continue to shut out and overlook a third of the UK’s pool of able workers. Furthermore, not solving the ageism problem, and, worse, allowing it to grow, could have seismic short, medium and long-term impacts on the UK’s economy.
The full study is downloadable from: www.55redefined.com