THEY are experienced, often great with customers and rarely call in sick – so why are older workers not valued more?
By 2025, one in three UK employees will be aged over 50.
Richard James is one of IKEA Nottinghams oldest employees
Bill Rogers, 88, has been assembling furniture at the Wednesbury store in the West Midlands for 29 yearsCredit: IKEA
Yet figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show only a third of firms would hire someone aged 50 to 55, and just 13 per cent actively seek staff aged 56 and over.
The OECD blames an “age-performance paradox” where employer biases lead to the undervaluing of older candidates.
But Stefano Scarpetta, OECD director for employment, labour and social affairs, says: “Ageing workers are an important asset, given their skill sets, experience and commitment.”
Next week is National Older Workers Week, when employers are urged to highlight the benefits of hiring the over-50s.
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This year the spotlight is on multi-generational teams being good for business, as they bring a wealth of different viewpoints and insights.
Fresh figures from over-50s site Rest Less (restless.co.uk) reveal the number of older people in part-time work has reached a record high of 3.6million, up 12 per cent since the pandemic and a surge of 56 per cent since 2003.
Among companies reaping the rewards of hiring more mature staff are Ikea, John Lewis, David Lloyd, Aviva and Lloyds Bank.
Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, said: “In the last few years, we have seen increasing numbers of progressive employers who understand the benefits of age-diverse and multi-generational workplaces.
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“Age-inclusive policies are no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, and offering flexible and part-time working arrangements is now an essential part of any employee value proposition.”
One of the most progressive employers of older workers is Ikea, with 800 staff aged 60 and over.
Bill Rogers, 88, has been assembling furniture at the Wednesbury store in the West Midlands for 29 years.
He said: “My role at Ikea is more like being with family than working a job, which is really important at my age.
“It can be an incredible place, with really fantastic people.
“We’ve even had a few footballers and famous faces in, but it’s not about that at all.
“It’s about the people you see coming into work that make you feel part of something.
“It keeps us fit and out of trouble — it’s a nice place to be.
“If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here.
“There’s not a lot of places that give older people like us a chance to work, so it’s great that we found an employer like Ikea.”
Darren Taylor, people and culture manager at Ikea, said: “At Ikea, we believe that every individual, at any age, has something valuable to offer.
“We look for shared values before anything else.”
Apply for an Ikea job at ikea.com/gb/en/this-is-ikea/work-with-us.
You can find out more about National Older Workers Week at nationalolderworkersweek.co.uk.
Value of lessons from life
OLDER people can help boost productivity and train younger staff, says Lyndsey Simpson, founder of over-50s champion 55redefined.co.
She adds: “There is so much wrong with our current view of ‘old’, and we urgently need to adapt to what growing older means in this new generation.”
Lyndsey Simpson, founder of over-50s champion 55redefined.co ‘There is so much wrong with our current view of ‘old’’Credit: Thomas Skovsende
Here, she explains why firms should hire them . . .
FEWER SICKNESS CALLS: In the over-50s, absence rates are nine per cent, yet in the under-25s, it is 25 per cent.
Also, older workers usually do not need time off to take care of ill children, or to cover school holidays, meaning they can be more flexible with their working hours.
MORE TRANSFERABLE SKILLS: Through their life and work experience, older workers are often able to adapt the skills that life has taught them to new roles.
WITH AGE COMES EMPATHY: This is one of the reasons why many banks are actively hiring older workers.
When a customer is dealing with a bereavement, or does not understand new technology, who better to assist them than someone their own age?
With an ageing population, the opinions of older employees will likely be shared by your customers too.
BETTER AT JOINING THE DOTS: Productivity of older workers tends to rise in jobs relying on social acumen.
Due to their experience, over-50s are able to spot patterns and details that allow them to unlock solutions to difficult or complex problems.
LESS AFRAID TO SPEAK THEIR MIND: Because they feel more comfortable with who they are, it means that older workers can add valuable insight into decision making and help employers see things from a different perspective.
That’s why multi-generational teams are so valuable in the workplace.
STAFF aged over 50 now make up more than a third of the hospitality sector’s workforce.
Apply for jobs at caterer.com.
Seniors flex it
A THIRD of senior staff would stay in the workplace longer if employers offered flexible hours and working patterns.
The research from insurer Zurich also reveals that a quarter of older staff would carry on if …