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Getting older workers on board – and keeping them engaged

A record 8.9 million over-50s were employed last year, according to new Government figures.

But Pensions Minister Steve Webb says there is still more to be done to encourage older people to stay in work – a move predicted to greatly boost the economy.

The UK is about to see a seismic shift in the working population over the next decade.

BE pic Older Staff

There will be 3.7 million extra inhabitants between 50 years old and the state pension threshold, while the number of 16-49 year olds is set to fall by 700,000.

The country’s GDP could jump by 12% by 2037 if the proportion of immigrant workers and over-65 employees rises, according to an International Longevity Centre-UK report.

Mr Webb said the case for employing more older people is “compelling”. He said that they are a huge “untapped” talent and unveiled new measures on Friday (June 13) to encourage such initiatives, such as supporting older staff with long-term sickness issues to go back to work.

What do older people bring to the table?

– they can act as mentors to younger employees

– they have a reservoir of experience from which younger workers can draw upon

– they are more reliable, according to a survey published last year. People over 65 don’t have as many ‘bad days’ as younger ones, the Max Plnack Institute for Human Development found

How can you get older workers on board?

– check and re-check your recruitment ads to ensure that there is no bias against older people

– if you’re going to make your recruitment ads “right-on” to attract younger people, perhaps consider balancing this with another ad to appeal to older staff

– when you’re interviewing older people use case studies of experienced workers you already have on board who have done well for you

– don’t talk in twenty-something language during the interview. Perhaps engage them about hobbies they have on their CV

How can you keep them engaged?

– give them extra responsibilities, such as making them mentors for younger workers eager to mine their rich seam of experience

– introduce flexible working measures to appeal to older staff who might not fancy working the whole time

– offer to train them up with new skills, such as new computer programmes

– if they’re computer-resistant or challenged, reassure them they are primarily there for their other, more traditional skills. You have younger workers who can specialise in high-tech skills, leaving this kind of staffer to concentrate on what they do best

– realise there is an age gap between the older and younger staff with different needs and attitudes. Older workers have a more accepting view of the hierarchal system. So you don’t have to drum it into them who is in charge

– offer them staff perks, such as medical coverage, eye care and dentistry, as older staff could need them more. If necessary, customise these benefits packages.