Don’t neglect older workers, urges Punter Southall Aspire CEO
– Top tips to support a multigenerational workforce –
During National Older Workers Week[i] (22-26 November) – which aims to help businesses manage multigenerational teams and eliminate ageism – Steve Butler, CEO, Punter Southall Aspire, recommends employers take a fresh approach to supporting older workers.
Steve has published four books, including Manage the Gap: Achieving success with intergenerational teams, which looks at the impact of an ageing population on the workforce, and why companies need to focus on employees at every stage of their career, but especially older workers, who can often be overlooked.
Those aged 55 and over are at the highest risk of being left behind when it comes to workplace training, making their skills less relevant and being potentially less employable, according to research from City & Guilds Group[ii]
This age group is also the least likely to have undertaken formal workplace training in the last five years, with only half (53%) having done so. This compares to 67% of 35–54-year-olds and 83% of 18–34-year-olds.
National Older Workers Week comes at a time when one in three employees will be over 50 by 2025[iii].
Steve says, “National Older Workers Week shines a light on ageism in the workplace. More mature workers are often forgotten when it comes to training as employers tend to focus on younger colleagues. This is a mistake, they risk losing the valuable skills and experience of older workers.
“We recommend employers take a more creative approach with people halfway and beyond in their career to identify their needs and aspirations, so they can better support them. One of the best ways to do this is to introduce Midlife Reviews to stimulate conversation about next steps, second careers and flexible career solutions.
“If done correctly, a Midlife Review can mean that the last ten or twenty years of a person’s working life is their most productive and rewarding as it brings together their accumulated experience, expertise and know-how for the benefit of their employer.”
Steve offers the following tips for employers to support a multigenerational workforce:
- Introduce a mid-life review for staff in their forties. This will help workers to analyse where they would like their career to go and make plans accordingly.
- Broaden the range of career trajectories. Introduce more options for flexible, part-time and remote work.
- Offer sabbaticals for older workers. Give long serving employees a sabbatical to re-charge their batteries and take time to focus on what is important going forward.
- Train managers. Be proactive about training managers to support workers of all ages and skill levels, initiating additional management training as needed.
- Be transparent. Be open about the age demographics in the company, so that any potential biases or age-related issues can come to light. Ideally the age demographic of the business should match the client base.
- Introduce mentoring. Match younger and older workers so they can mentor each other, sharing their knowledge and skills. A reverse mentoring scheme with senior managers and junior staff can be very effective.
Steve has also co-authored a book called the Midlife Review: A guide to work, wealth and wellbeing with writer Tony Watts, offering business leaders, managers and employees guidance to help them understand and support ‘midlife’ workers.