Having spent time with my folks over the weekend, particularly talking to my dad, who is still running his own business at the age of 81, sometimes it’s easy to forget the skills and experience the older generations brings to the world of work.
New data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that over 10 million over-50s are now in employment. This is no doubt driven by a number of reasons, including the fact that the state pension age has increased, and we’re living longer than we were just a couple of decades ago. The fact is there are more older people in the workplace, and as employers, you have a duty to make sure your supporting your staff and ensure that diverse needs are being met.
So what exactly are your responsibilities and how can you tap into the opportunity that exists when it comes to harnessing the skills of the older generation? I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts for making sure your business is riding the silver wave.
Don’t write off older staff when it comes to learning and development
There’s often the assumption that older people have one eye firmly on retirement, so there can be a tendency to neglect learning and development provisions, and keep the bigger opportunities for younger employees. This is potentially discriminative, and it’s also extremely short sighted.
Invest in your older workers, and you could see many benefits. Be aware of the skills that they may be lacking, and focus on what you can do to ensure that they’re brought up to speed, and can continue to contribute to the bigger picture.
Consider reverse mentoring initiatives
Technology is often a stumbling block for older employees, and they can sometimes lack confidence when it comes to getting to grips with new systems and processes. This is obviously a generalisation, though it’s well worth considering whether this could be the case within your business.
A fantastic option here is to create a reverse mentoring programme. Younger staff, who tend to have less overall experience but more confidence with technology, could share their knowledge with their older colleagues. It’s easy to jump to the assumption that you need to fork out for formal training, and it’s true that this is sometimes necessary, but there are many other options that can be just as effective.
Be aware of the needs of older workers
At every different life stage, there are things that employers need to be aware of when it comes to making sure that they’re supporting their staff and giving them a degree of flexibility to help them to meet their needs. One thing that you might want to consider for older staff is how you can support them when it comes to their caring responsibilities.
Many older workers will want to spend time with grandchildren, and taking this into account could keep them motivated and engaged. As a rule of thumb, offering flexibility, as long as you keep operational requirements in mind, can be great for morale and motivation.
Workforces are becoming more diverse, and this can be a wonderful thing for your business. But you do need to take the time to make sure that you’re fulfilling your responsibilities, and doing all you can to keep your policies and practices fit for purpose.
If you want to ensure that you’re getting things right, get in touch today. We can carry out a review of where you are, and what changes may need to be made to keep your business thriving.