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Flipping future talent on its head

Posted on from Havas People

There’s a natural tendency to associate 'future talent' with graduates and apprentices. But as the population evolves and fewer young people enter the workforce, how can you ensure older employees form part of your future talent agenda? For Graeme Wright, the answer may well lie in ‘recareering’.

What does recareering mean?

The essence of recareering is the redeployment of older workers (and we are defining older here as being over 50). As such, it is distinct from many ongoing initiatives to get older people into work as it’s not about getting a job, it’s about starting a new career. And we believe recareering has the potential to transform the UK recruitment marketplace.

Not many would argue with the principle that older workers can bring obvious benefits to any organisation: improved engagement with customer base; reduced staff turnover; skills transitioning; and higher performance have all been linked to companies hiring older workers. However, recareering still remains something of a rarity – sure, you see the comfortably well-off moving from their jobs in the service sector to work as teachers or in the charity sector – but seeing older workers competing for graduate or even apprenticeships is still rare.

What are the benefits of recareering?

Improved engagement with your customer base
Ensuring your workforce mirrors your customer base enables you to engage better with customers, have a clearer awareness of their desires and be more innovative and responsive to their needs.

Skills transitioning
Skills and experiences of recareering candidates from their first career life will transition into the employer organisation.

'Second-life' mentality
Recareering gives candidates an opportunity for a ‘second career life’. There’s evidence that this leads to a 'second life' mentality which encourages higher levels of loyalty, commitment, and career focus.

Recruitment of ‘leadership developers’
Recareering can create ‘leadership developers’: a segment of the organisation that is capable of mentoring, leading, and coaching younger workers.

Utilisation of established networks
Employers will also be able to benefit from existing networks of recareerers from their first career life.

Reduced staff turnover
Older workers are liable to stay with an organisation longer. B&Q once recorded that staff turnover was reduced by over 60% in stores where older people were the main focus of recruitment.

Higher performance
There is plenty of evidence that those organisations with a mixed-age workforce are more productive than those with an age bias. McDonald’s reports 20% higher performance in UK outlets where 60+ year old workers are employed.

Employers can make recareering more accessible:

Normalise the idea of recruiting over 50s internally and challenge preconceptions. Older workers in trainee positions still seem strange to many employees and uncomfortable for younger managers. The first challenge for any organisation is to articulate the benefits they will gain from engaging with older workers, this might be as straightforward as matching your workforce to your customer base (as is the case with some financial institutions) or dealing with skills shortages (as is the case with some engineering organisations). Being able to sell the benefits of recareering is an important first step to acceptance.

Extend diversity programmes to include the over 50s and address issues relating to unconscious bias and challenge ageism. People often maintain an unconscious, or sadly a conscious bias towards older workers, suggesting, for example: that older workers are more liable to sickness; that you will not be able to get a return on training invested; that older people do not understand technology. As such, recruiting older workers needs to have the same support as any other diversity initiatives – as with graduate recruitment the key is to consider skills (as opposed to previous job titles).

Mentoring – as with any new intake, mentoring can be very effective with older workers, however, there is another dimension – skills transitioning. Many older workers bring skills and experience from their previous lives. By looking to take advantage of these skills, employers can gain both a business advantage but also smooth integration.

Consider industry initiatives
– there are obviously a number of barriers to recareering in most industry sectors. One of the biggest barriers is that those who may have most to offer feel employees will have little interest in them and a lack of awareness of any opportunities. By working together, organisations can be far more effective in communicating an openness to accepting older workers than they ever can alone.

Make sure marketing is ageless – look to your marketing, internal and external, and consider how attractive it is liable to be for older workers. Just like any other form of diversity marketing – how you say it is just as important as what you say.

 

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