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.
Did you like this article? We've been nominated for HR publication of the year at the Towers Watson Media Awards 2015. Please vote for us here.