7 ways to welcome older people back to work

April 27, 2023

Recent research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) suggests that age discrimination remains a persistent issue in the workforce with the over-50s often being treated as unskilled and culturally unfit.

Certainly we’ve seen many over-50s face a unique set of challenges when returning back to work – from gaps in knowledge and skills through to the tricky area of general office banter and more direct ageism.

So it is great to see the government’s new Way to Work initiative which includes a range of programmes designed to encourage the over-50s back into jobs and careers.

Plus, the latest Budget announced a rise in the amount we can all save into pensions (with tax relief) which is a clear incentive for older people looking to extend their careers.

Benefits to you of welcoming over-50s into your team.
It’s easy to generalise but several studies have suggested that older employees are more likely to have a great work ethic, be loyal, less likely to call in sick, and are more motivated by community and mission as opposed to perks and salary – all a great attraction to SME employers.

Their greater life experience may also bring qualities of resilience and broader perspective which some employers find frustratingly lacking in younger hires.

With reportedly half a million people aged 50-64 who would actively like to be in work, here are seven ways that you can tap into this often over-looked bank of talent.

1. Think about where you advertise your roles
It’s easy to forget that not everyone searches for jobs on LinkedIn or similar platforms. Don’t underestimate the power of advertising in local magazines and newspapers or even dropping a postcard in local shops. It’s also worth re-thinking any stigma and striking up a relationship with your local job centre.

2. Make your language inclusive and accessible
When advertising, use age-inclusive language to ensure everyone feels they have a chance of success. Scan and remove any tech language; and consider a blind application process that removes non-essential info to indicate someone’s age.

3. Consider their relevant experience
Many job application forms ask for a full working history and this can be pretty challenging for people with 30 plus years of employment. Perhaps instead ask for recent work history, skills and experience that pertain purely to the role, as opposed to asking people to remember (and then list out) years and years of an entire career history.

4. Flexible working may appeal
There are all kinds of reasons why the over-50s may prefer a job share, part-time work or flexible hours including time-off to care for relatives or existing childcare commitments for children and grandchildren.

5. Invest in training
This is one of the biggest barriers to entry and there’s lots that employers can do such as one-off skills-based training days or working with other local businesses to host more regular training (and networking events) for the over-50s.

6. Think about what kind of incentives may attract them
A health cash plan or private medical insurance may be desirable. Incentives don’t necessarily need to be financial. Sometimes it’s about using positive language to reinforce the hugely positive mental health impacts that gainful employment can bring – and the financial boost to quality of life (not to be underestimated during a cost of living crisis).

7. Think creatively about support
All employees may appreciate channels of support. So as part of this wider thinking, consider the needs of over-50s who may be changing career, or suddenly find themselves amongst much younger colleagues. Perhaps think about a reverse mentoring scheme where tech-savvy staff can support older employees in things like technology and social media.

Need help?
While we have been discussing proactive measures to tap into a key demographic in the jobs market, don’t forget also that in terms of equality, age is a legally protected characteristic.

So whether it is being proactive or checking you are in line with the Equality Act 2010, we can help you ensure any job specs, training, or adverts work for the over-50s.

Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce