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Golden Oldies: Creating an Age-Positive Work Culture to Benefit Your Business

With more organisations than ever before facing the challenges of an older workforce, Sandra Smart, Company Director of Octopus Personnel, outlines how to build an age friendly workplace.

Business Woman and Older Business Man having a meeting

One in 25 of the UK workforce is now aged 65 and over, new figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest.  It is the first time since comparable records began that the proportion of the workforce aged 65 and over has passed 4%.  With even more over 50s likely to be in work than those under 30 in the next decade, employers need to act now to attract talented, experienced older workers to their organisations or they are likely to miss out.

The business case is for being an age-friendly employer is quite simple. Society is not homogenous. Most organisations recognise the value of having a diverse workforce, bringing together neuro-diverse employees with different life experiences, genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations and thinking styles.  Age is no different.  However, to benefit from these changes in the composition in the workforce, recruiting talent and experience rather than struggling to fill roles, employers need to proactively prepare to adapt to and support an older workforce.

How can you build a culture which values and supports an older workforce?

Older Woman at the seaside staring into the distance

Older workers should be understood as an invaluable resource

The commitment, knowledge and experience an older workforce can bring to a workplace is not something to be underestimated.  It’s not enough to have age friendly policies; it’s about building a living, working age-friendly approach to all aspects of the workplace that really enhances the working experience of older employees. Whilst they may feel daunting, there are some simple things you can put into place to prepare your organisation.

1. Flexible working is the future

Gone are the days of 9 to 5 working and everyone being in the same building at the same time. Now technology is enabling employers to think smarter and build a more agile, flexible workforce. Flexible working is often high on the agenda for people of all ages, and although certain age groups’ reasons for wanting it might differ, the principles are the same.

Implementing policies which support an older workforce in this way can be very well received.  For example, a robust carer’s policy can benefit employees who find themselves having to provide care and support for a family member, whilst protecting the demands of the organisation.

Older Worker using Saw

2. Create a culture of lifelong learning

Business Titan James Cash Penney was onto something when he said, “Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”  A culture of lifelong learning is a powerful force for growth in any business.

Constant “upskilling” is no longer just a buzzword; it’s the new normal. Employees who constantly evolve their skill sets are able to take advantage of the latest technologies. This translates to better productivity and innovation. When you provide continuous training for employees, you also improve their loyalty by valuing their individual growth.

Taking advantage of the experience and skills of older workers can bring offers an inexpensive, accessible and often innovative approach to skill development. Many older workers are keen contribute to others’ development through mentoring programmes or expert sessions, and it is an excellent way to ensure they feel valued and respected within the workplace.

That culture, in turn, means that older employees will be keener to develop their own skills and to collaborate with younger members of staff to the benefit of all – especially the business!  Therefore, everyone can improve their skills and drive the organisation forward; innovation, upskilling and technology are for all.

Mature Woman having a cup of coffee

3. Invest in and value staff wellbeing

With the media focusing intently on work-life balance and wellbeing, most employees are seeking an employer who takes their responsibility to support and enhance workforce wellbeing seriously.

Wellbeing at work is a complex concept covering all aspects of people’s experience of working life. Physical, psychological, social and financial wellbeing at work collectively allow employees to feel safe and healthy, able to thrive and maximise their potential, be they an older workforce or not.

A well-implemented wellbeing policy is a key retention tool for all members of staff and creating a healthy work environment forms a vital part of any people strategy.  When employees feel healthy, included and motivated, they will deliver the very best outcomes.

A Healthy Work Environment

Maintaining a safe and comfortable work environment, both internally and externally, is a basic but hugely important requirement for employee wellbeing.  As musculoskeletal (‘bad backs’) and mental health problems represent two massive work-related health issues, encouraging healthy behaviours and lifestyles – physically and psychologically – can help avoid huge costs from absenteeism, turnover and lowered productivity.

Older Chef prepares food behind counter

Organisational Communication

Internal communication within the organisation, co-operation and teamwork, and all internal relationships that employees form with close colleagues – and indeed their line managers – are at the heart of wellbeing. The evolution and development of close relationships is common.  Therefore, the best employers recognise people’s natural emotional need to bond and build quality relationships with the people around them, and know that company loyalty can be strengthened by such relationships.  Staff outings, events and groups build morale.  Workshops on areas which inform particular groups of staff, such as financial health, carers etc., are extremely valuable.  Inviting local charities and employees themselves to present to the workforce can all build a culture of wellbeing.

Family-Friendly

Truly family-friendly organisations can also proactively support family and personal lives through work-family enrichment, by involving families in work-related social events and communications.

4. Create an age friendly culture

Clear policies and equality and diversity training, of which age-positive practice is very much a part, are vital for building an age friendly workplace.  Run workshops for your managers on managing an older workforce.  Ensure all managers attend recruitment training. You could also consider inviting all staff to take part in Dementia Friends training.

Older Business Man drinking coffee

How can Octopus Personnel help?

We know you fully recognise the value of top talent.  Young or old, those individuals that can drive your business forwards and boost the bottom line, but HR departments face a tricky task when it comes to ensuring a flow of continual talent into the business, and making sure they hire individuals who are suited to the job and the culture of the organisation. In the current buoyant jobs market, where employers are competing with one another for the most skilled and experienced staff, this becomes even more difficult.

Using Octopus Personnel to identify and attract talent, and negotiate terms, can relieve a huge amount of pressure. We can help you find the right people to drive your business forwards, bring them to interview, and secure their services within budget.

We have a robust approach to actively ensuring diversity, including in terms of age, in our recruitment processes.  For example, we ensure imagery and videos for job advertisements represent a wide range of ages and ethnicities.  The wording of our advertisements focus on skills required, not unconsciously implying a specific age of workers, e.g. we won’t seek digital natives; we are specific about proficiency in certain digital skills or a proven track record adopting and mastering new tools.

An older workforce brings industry and business knowledge and a wealth of experience that helps them strategise and solve problems.  We know they can mentor younger workers, often technically, but also in valuable interpersonal skills and teamwork.  Older workers bring the equivalent of wisdom capital to a job, and we use our one-to-one candidate interviews to explore these skills so we can find that perfect match to drive your business forward.

Infographic showing how Octopus Personnel can support recruitment process

Octopus Personnel Recruiting Infographic

Excellent value for money and a money-back guarantee

Other agencies use a system of scaled percentages, which increase costs dramatically in line with high value candidates’ starting salary.  We offer a flat rate of 10% of starting salary across all permanent placements.  We are dedicated to providing a first class service and we are so confident in our abilities that we offer a unique 100% money back guarantee if our candidates don’t meet your expectations.

Our service is quick, efficient and above all cost effective! What’s our secret? We love what we do and we get a genuine kick out of changing people’s lives for the better and by helping our clients to grow and expand their businesses.

Have I convinced you?  What have you got to lose?

At Octopus Personnel, we have years of industry expertise and outstanding relationships with our clients, understanding the ever-changing needs of their businesses.  We are perfectly positioned within the market to guide you to the right employee who will drive your business forward.  Call the office on 01747 825568 to discuss how we can help you.

Sandra Smart Octopus Personnel