What employers should consider when hiring individuals over 50

Due to a chronic nationwide skills gap, UK employers are encouraging thousands of over-50s to return to work and "un-retire".

author

James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.

Date

28 April 2023

Updated

11 July 2024
4 min read
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What employers should consider when hiring individuals over 50
8:40

Due to a chronic nationwide skills gap, UK employers are encouraging thousands of over-50s to return to work and "un-retire".

Add to this that the current economic crisis has resulted in many people delaying their retirement and having to work for longer periods, and employers are facing the reality of working with a much older workforce.

With these factors at play, an ageing population, and wellness & fitness movements keeping our bodies and minds able to keep working well into our twilight years, employers need to consider the best ways of managing and recruiting an ageing workforce, along with the unique needs that come with it.

We've outlined some key considerations when recruiting the over 50s, including the benefits of recruiting retired workers below. 

 

Download Neathouse Partner's Recruitment Guidance Document

Recruitment Guidance


 

Over 50's In The Workforce

Over 50's In The Workforce

The number of workers aged 50 and over has been increasing steadily over the past decade, with a rise of 3.4 million since 2011, and according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 10.4 million workers aged 50 and over in the UK in 2020, representing 32.2% of the total workforce.

As a result, there are more and more older people applying for jobs and a huge pool of talent and experience that recruiters can tap into.

 

Tips for employers looking to recruit retired workers:

  1. Stay flexible – Many older applicants may not have the same availability as younger job seekers. They may be juggling family commitments, managing chronic health conditions, or caring for elderly relatives. Ensure that you are flexible and accommodating when it comes to interviewing times, other aspects of the recruitment process and working patterns for jobs offered such as part-time or temporary work, to attract retired workers.
  2. Be aware of the law – Age discrimination is illegal, and you should be sensitive to how different age groups are treated during recruitment processes. For example, if one group is asked more questions than another or there is an emphasis on youth, this could be considered ageist. Make sure you are up-to-date on the relevant legislation and have systems in place to ensure that all employees are treated fairly.
  3. Make your job descriptions relevant – Job descriptions and adverts need to appeal to all ages, including retirees. Ensure that you use inclusive language and avoid language that suggests a preference for younger workers, for example, avoiding the expression “recent graduates”. Although it is unlawful to ask for older workers only, it is possible to take “positive action” where you believe a particular group are under-represented in the workforce. This can be a tricky area, however, and you should take advice if you plan to recruit in this way.
  4. Understand the value of life experience – Older workers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be invaluable to any workplace. Consider how their past roles, skills and accomplishments could add value to your team and be sure to emphasise their experience in job descriptions or during conversations with potential candidates.
  5. Consider age-appropriate training – Learning new technology and processes may take longer for an older worker, so employers should provide age-appropriate training to help them adapt to new technologies and working practices. Consider using digital or video tutorials as well as face-to-face instruction to help ensure that retirees can keep up with the ever-evolving workplace.
  6. Be aware of legal and regulatory issues: Be aware of legal and regulatory issues related to hiring retired workers, such as pensions and discrimination laws. Discuss retirement benefits with potential candidates, such as pension provisions or flexible working arrangements.
  7. Use targeted recruitment strategies: Use targeted recruitment strategies, such as reaching out to professional organisations or job boards specifically for retirees, to find potential candidates and emphasise company culture and values that align with the preferences of retired workers, such as work-life balance and supportive workplace culture.
  8. Engage older workers: Once you have recruited the over-50s talent that you need, ensure that they feel supported and valued in your organisation by engaging them in meaningful conversations about their career paths and offering mentoring opportunities or training opportunities.
  9. Offer incentives and benefits – Retired workers may be more interested in financial security than career advancement, so consider offering incentives such as pension or health insurance top-ups, flexible working arrangements, and reduced work hours. Additionally, look at offering other benefits such as discounted products or services to make working for your organisation more attractive.

 

Benefits of hiring retired workers:

  1. Experience: Retired workers bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge that can be valuable to the workplace.
  2. Reliability: Retired workers are often reliable and have a strong work ethic, which can be an asset to employers.
  3. Work-life balance: Retired workers may be more interested in flexible work arrangements, such as part-time or temporary work, which can be beneficial for both the employer and the employee.
  4. Reduced training costs: Retired workers may require less training compared to younger workers, which can reduce training costs.
  5. Brand reputation: Hiring retired workers can improve an organisation's reputation as being supportive of older workers and promoting age diversity.

 

Tips For Employers Managing Older Persons Recruitment

To increase engagement across the workforce and prevent legal issues, all employees must receive equality and diversity training and become familiar with the relevant policies and procedures to ensure ageism isn't an issue at your organisation when recruiting older people.

Age discrimination in recruitment legislation refers to laws and regulations that prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on their age.

In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 sets out the legal framework for tackling age discrimination in recruitment and employment. Under the Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against job applicants or employees based on age in any aspect of employment, including recruitment, training, promotion, and dismissal.

The Act prohibits direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation on the grounds of age. Direct discrimination is treating someone less favourably because of their age, while indirect discrimination is a policy or practice that puts people of a particular age group at a disadvantage.

In real terms, you should ensure that recruitment processes are fair, selection criteria are relevant to the job and performance objectives, and age should not be a factor in deciding on a candidate.

 

Read more: When can you use statutory defence against discrimination claims

 

Summary

Overall, hiring retired workers can be a beneficial move for employers, but you must take steps to ensure that their recruitment processes are fair and do not discriminate against applicants based on age.

Employers must take steps to ensure that their recruitment processes are fair and do not discriminate against applicants based on age. This includes avoiding age-related requirements or preferences in job advertisements and ensuring that selection criteria are based on skills, experience, and other relevant factors rather than age.

By offering flexible work arrangements and providing training and support, employers can attract and retain retired workers who bring valuable skills, knowledge, and experience to the workplace.

Next Steps

Neathouse Partners can help you to ensure that your business operates fair and non-discriminatory processes concerning recruiting older employees. If you would like support with managing and understanding your employer's responsibilities regarding managing an ageing workforce, please call 01244 893776 to talk to our friendly team.

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